February 29, 2004

You Americans

Posted by mbowen at 11:44 PM | TrackBack

Activist Judges Wanted

I find myself unnaturally drawn to this gay marriage debate. I think it's a very compelling topic which is to complex to be decided quickly ore easily. There are a lot of reasonable positions which are getting excluded, which suggests to me that any action on this soon would be regretted. So with regards to the FMA, all bets are off. Of course I never took it so seriously that I thought it would get off the ground. Upon review it seems too clever by half and heavy handed - a sledgehammer for a ball peen job.

Still I think I have a point which bear repeating which is that the activism should not be in attempting for gays to get Married thus eliminating all of their issues in one fell swoop but rather for the emphasis on biting out the chunks of discrimination in the 'thousands' of areas where they are institutionalized.

For the record, I would stipulate that, despite the dubious sounding 3rd point (I doubt I've ever had a job with benefits that good) Debwire's List is real and significant:

  • ability to make decisions on a partner’s behalf in a medical emergency.
  • petition for partner to immigrate.
  • up to 12 weeks leave from work to care for a seriously ill partner or parent of a partner.
  • parenting responsibilities of children brought into a family through birth, adoption, surrogacy or other means.
  • ability to purchase continued health coverage for a domestic partner after the loss of a job.

While I may sound like one of those footdragging Christian ministers MLK railed about from Birmingham, I wonder aloud if this is not a bourgie movement. King might have asked, if not now then when. I ask why now and not back then.

Long ago when I was putting together the Race Man's Home Companion, I found one Judge Frank M. Johnson. He authored a number of decisions which seem to be obvious. There's a case, for example, desegregating bus depots in Birmingham. Can gay couples muster the dozen or so most critical test cases and set up trials to test the constitutionality of these discriminations, or has that avenue been deemed futile? Where is the Bull Connor of the emergency room that is keeping gay partners from giving medical consent? Surely there's a wrongful death suit lurking somewhere just waiting for its day in the court of public opinion.

Independently of state issued civil unions, take it to the courts. Please.

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My mother is living with us these days. It's really a pleasure. She has been on the road over the past two years as a Covenant Player. That is to say that she's done Chritian-themed dinner theatre acting in a couple dozen cities in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ontario, Quebec & Newfoundland. Now she has come back to rest and recooperate from her massive road trip here in Redondo.

Most of the time here, she has been resting and reading as well as being overwhelmed by the Lunatic, the Maniac and the Nutcase, but grandparents have a way of seeing in elementary school children, something we parents only see at Christmas. But what gives me a bit of an interesting thought today is how she's decided to consume various parts of my library. She's on her tenth book in two weeks.

I asked her if she might want to write about it and she thinks it's a halfway decent idea. It took me all of 10 minutes to setup another blog for her in MT. So while she gets cranked up, I just wanted to give a heads up to lookout for the Nani Nani blog. Soon come.

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Only In America

Stop a moment and give this a bit of noodling. America is the country best suited to handle the decentralization of power. There is something built into our culture that responds well to the increasing amount of capability that comes within our reach from the spoils of empire.

We have the communication networks, we have the enthusiasm, and we have the wherwithal to make singular creations through collaborations of interest. All that sounds a little theoretical and woolly until you read this.

The less you know about Hot Rodding, the more impressive a lot of this sounds, and it is from my ignorant perspective that this made me stop and think for a while. You've got to know a lot about a lot to build an automobile, and even more to build one which challenges all that have come before. But this is what these gnarley individuals and small companies have done, with results that speak of art and passion.

The damned thing does 0.98g on the skid pad! Miraculous.

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Girl Party

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February 28, 2004


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Outsource Outrage

I have stopped being open-minded for the moment about outsourcing and offshoring. When I open my mind again, I'll point first to Bob Cringely and start from there. For the time being, I have noticed that my particular niche of the IT business requires a lot of hands-on management. So I'm going to pretend that the ethics don't concern me and profit from the protectionist sentiment.

I am genuinely convinced, according both to my experience and commentary, that offshoring of software development is very difficult and is really a 'get what you pay for' deal. There are a lot of functions that can be offshored, and I think that if it were done logically, you would find some of the reverse of things being done now. Operations should be offshored - basically anything you would send to an ASP to manage, not building new things. Customer support, well I think that whole industry is lacking in the genuine common touch. Call Centers should be in Montana, not Mumbai. Why isn't there a Congressman hooked up with this?

Anyone who asks to offshore software development is asking for political trouble as well as quality control and management headaches. While I might not agree with some of the political sentiment, I don't mind that people get those headaches.

By the way, I want to say big up to Sprint PCS, because it is clear to my ears as well as personal conversations that they've hired a bunch of CSRs from the 'hood.

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February 27, 2004

Ministry of Culture

If I were elected president, I would create a cabinet level post and a new federal agency for the Ministry of Culture. I would fund it to the tune of about 2 Billion annually and I would revitalize the Arts. I would hire NOBODY FROM HOLLYWOOD.

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Fake Warriors

What does GWBush have in common with half a dozen rappers? They're all studio gangstas.

Charles Dutton recently said of hiphop 'actors':

In that regard if you go through every corner, every ghetto in America, you ain't gon' find nobody standing on the corner with his arms folded, you know what I mean, like in a hip hop stance. I mean that's kind of media behavior. I said let's dispense with all that, just play a guy who is tough without being demonstrative. Most hip hop generation young African American actors have the tendency or they think that their personas have to be of this tough "I'm a gangsta, I'm a tough guy" thing and really none of them are for real in real life . . .

Kevin Drum has narrowed it down to a checkbox, only proving the power of the open source intelligence that the blogosphere has produced. But what are we to make of the perpetratin' fraud of machismo manhood? It's clearly going top to bottom.

Since I am a traditionalist and coming from the Old School, I don't believe we are in need of a great deal of psychology in this matter. Nor will its cure be found in drugs. We need to look to the wisdom of the ways of the warrior and understand the difference between those who fight for purpose and those who squabble in ignorance. As a necessary part of this, we need to recovery our archtype.

For me, Robert Bly's 'Iron John' was a watershed because it placed manhood in the context of many archetypes. If gave me a way to see beyond the contemporary measures of man. Even though much of our archetypes come from European feudal ways, there is a great enough body of work, if when properly interpreted demonstrates exactly what responsibility a warrior possesses.

This is the kind of responsibility which is personal and at odds with modernity. It is completely eradicated in bureacracy and regimes of legal compliance. GWBush of all people, who cannot show and prove in the Plame case, ought to shut his mouth about being any kind of warrior. Kerry, a fabulously wealthy 4 time Senator from the East Coast gets no warrior props in my book. He's undone it all.

There's much more to say about this. I have had the experience that proved to me that I am not willing to live by a warrior code, but I admire those who truly are.

Posted by mbowen at 11:25 AM | TrackBack

Or Else

The domestic political question about Haiti hangs on the gunwales of rickety boats. Are they coming or not? 'They' meaning black political refugees fleeing what would obviously be a brutal and repressive regime.

However 'brutal' and 'repressive' are hardly what one would expect to think of the government of Jean Bertrand Aristide, the man of the cloth who recieved heroic applause in these United States not long ago. As he replaced the despotic regime before him in elections ruled 'free and fair' by none other than Jimmy Carter.

The two tripwires have been broken to make this matter hit the television. The Florida politician has raised the spectre of boat people, subtly. The Black politician has called somebody racist.

What's next?

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February 26, 2004


I swear I'm going to hop off this gay marriage meme one of these days.

In the meantime, I want to issue a challenge, and the challenge is to show me where the denial of rights and privileges are affecting gay lives. I expect some real answers but I also am begging the question of the literal currency of marriage.

In ten years of marriage, I've never had to show my marriage license. A driver's license with the same last name, or a SSN is all I've had to show. The actual license is somewhere in my garage. In fact, my marriage license has the wrong date on it because a a bureaucratic foulup in the City of New York. That has never caused me any pain.

So I'm trying to determine where it is on the ground that documentable marriage makes or breaks and agreement, right or privilege, because all this time it has very easy for me and the spousal unit. Where is it legal and where is it social, this discrimination against gays? Again, I raise the question in the form of the most poignant analogy that I can.

If gays are being denied public accomodations, and I use that phrase purposefully, why must they be married to exercise recourse under existing equal protection laws? My answer is that they are not being denied rights, but privileges. I believe this society is quite willing to grant equal protection of rights and privileges if activists for the gay cause will simply leave the M word out of it. And since they are privileges, society is reasonable in asking.

Is it too much to ask? Apparently so, for all the moral posturing. This is the case where asking permission is easier than asking for forgiveness.

I also want to note in passing how much ignorant intolerance of the religious beliefs of 'phobes is flying through the air right about now.

Posted by mbowen at 10:30 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

FMA: Balkin's Version

Jack Balkin, legal scholar proposes amending the FMA to read properly. I agree with him. If it should be done, it should be done right. Damn lawyers! What they can do with a single sentence - they obfuscate purposefully.

If the FMA had been designed to do what its proponents claim it will do, it should have been drafted as follows:
Section 1. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Section 2. Nothing in the first section of this Article shall be construed to prevent either Congress or the legislatures of the several states from providing any other benefits, rights, or privileges, or combinations thereof, to unmarried couples or groups.

Thus, Congress and state legislatures may provide all of the incidents of marital status except marital status itself. As you can see, such an amendment is not particularly difficult to draft. The fact that there is a gap between what the text says and what the Alliance for Marriage says the text will do suggests to me that they are not being entirely forthcoming about the reasons for the Amendment.

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February 25, 2004


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Black Children

Just going through some of my 70s pictures brings back a lot of memories, not the least of which is how seldom one ever saw photographs of black children which weren't sold in some context of ghetto depravity. My father shot literally thousands of pictures during the 70s and 80s of black kids, and taught me a lot about photography in the process. Now it's interesting to note how little that's changed. Even in our modern day instant access internet, try googling up black children... they remain a thing of myth and sociological experiment.

Posted by mbowen at 08:50 PM | TrackBack

Raymond Curtis Bowen, Sr.

chico.jpgRaymond Curtis Bowen, Sr. died last Friday at the age of 91. As one of his many grandchildren and father of 3 of his 21 great-grandchildren it falls to me to carry on. I am writing this of my own accord as part and parcel of my own memories.

He taught himself Latin and Greek and was fond of explicating the meaning of words. We Bowens are autodidactic, back to Charles Sparrow the ex-sharecropper and Chico's father. Although Charles didn't survive the great flu epidemic, he did survive the migration from North Carolina to the horsey set of Connecticut. He was a squire, a horseman and from what I know of the scant family history, was the operator for the one elevator in the state, at the Statehouse in Hartford. But he and his wife both died and left his sons orphaned to be raised by the Miller Family several of which I have long heard of but have only recently met.

Chico was a Mason and an Elk. He had a large round head and a deep booming voice which was seldom raised. His knowledge of the intricacies of the black Episcopalians of New England was encyclopedic and I gather it is from that through my own father that our parsing of sermons and philosophies proceeds.

He was a man to have a drink and a smoke with and treated both with barely restrained enthusiasm. Every day was an opportunity to find a high backed chair, have a nip and speak in hushed tones about... who knows? Those things happened fairly high over the head of young Michael, but knowing my father and uncle I can certainly divine.

Chico was an old school gent, of course. He was the first black fraternity house manager at Yale. So his was the job of keeping the lid on the fracas of privileged white boys of the 50s. I presume it was the 50s, I don't really know the exact dates, but it was certainly before my father applied and got dismissed wthout appropriate consideration. Not that UConn Stearns was such a horrible alternative, but such was the typical humiliation of the times. When I think of Chico, I imagine such things.

Chico's room had books, a globe, a stand of pipes and a basket of canes. It gains focus in my memory as that of an officer in the East India Company. Wood, brass, tobacco, iron, vellum. My parents were raised hard. Chico would, no doubt be assailed as an abuser of children in today's persnickety terms. Those canes were not simply for assisting his progress down the sidewalk, but in assisting in ass whipping. He was most certainly a disciplinarian. A black child in the 40s was beat by loving parents in advance of beatings expected by hating whites. How could blacks be beat down by racist cops and maintain their dignity? It started in the home. We don't like to talk about such things, yet somehow being a combat veteran makes one Presidential.

The love of his life was my grandmother Lucille. They were married until she died, now almost 20 years ago. 'Miss Madam' was utterly proper and suffered no fools. It speaks precisely of the two of them when my grandmother was interviewed by some reporter back in the day after my uncle received his PhD in microbiology. Was she surprised that a black man could achieve such a thing? "No", she replied, "he's my son and that's what I expect of him." I went to visit him when I was about 13. It shocked and surprised them that I cut my spaghetti with a knife. She swore she let her son marry the wrong woman when she found out I had no idea that a spoon was to be used. At the time, they lived in new condos on the Sound. I recall grey icy days staring out of the window of their pristine building. Chico, just before I had arrived had put the finishing touches on a model ship. He had also built one in a bottle and challenged my poor brain to figure out how.

In those ways, my grandparents, unassuming as they seemed at a glance represented excruciating discipline. They had made it through the Depression. She had fought polio and won. There wasn't time for foolishness in life, not from an orphan. And in spite of all this Chico exuded warmth in a consipratorial twinkling of his eye. His respect for his wife and her rule of law was absolute, yet within the confines of that proper dignity was a jovial old fellow, and fellow is precisely the word he would use. He was full of good humor - I wish I could have known him as a man.

He worked troop trains, my grandfather. He stayed on after the war and worked for the New York, New Haven & Hartford for many years. He was in service as most working black men of his generation to the maintanence of things that kept the basics rolling. I didn't and couldn't know his politics but knowing my uncle, father and aunt, I know he harbored no illusions about what being colored meant. Still I imagine him stirred by A. Phillip Randolph. Pops says he was a fan of Marcus Garvey - I didn't know until tonight that Charles Sparrow was a serious Garveyite.

Such things are unfortunately shrowded in the mysteries of Alzheimer's. By the time I was ready to ask them, he was unable to tell them reliably. When he would come to visit California, my father would try to get him to write. My brother would record him on tape. The results often said less than anyone would expect. He would talk about his friends and not of himself. He would speak of the times but not their meaning. He would recite some breif genealogy of someone unknown to us all. He would describe the weather on the day that the Andrea Doria sunk.

In ways, he was only known to us through his expectations of us, and now can only be known in that way. He that holds great expectations and love. He that demands respect. He that minds us. Always distant as a man and now departed his presence is almost the same. He defined the gruff arrogance and hearty laughter that is a Bowen. He owned himself and watched many die before him. Now it is his turn to return to the dust. We'll honor him eternally.

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February 24, 2004


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Chico At Work

Starting with my late grandfather, I'll start publishing from the collection of Wellington House Photograpy here at Cobb. I'll comment on them in the comment sections but leave them uncaptioned on the front page. I now have a purpose.

Posted by mbowen at 08:48 PM | TrackBack

Jason Rocks to the Planet Rock

It seems unlikely that an artist would put the hookiest hook as an mp3 on the web, but that's just what Jason Moran has done, halfway anyway. I cannot explain how cool it is to have this rendition of Planet Rock performed as he has, but there it is for the hearing. As sson as you hear it, you'll be hooked and want to buy the rest of the album, which is worth it, I swear.

Do download it, and tell a friend.

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This is not the announcement it should be, but it is the precedent and must therefore suffice. My grandfather died last Friday and I've been thinking of proper ways to write about it. Nothing is forthcoming but the feeling that I am inadequate to the task as the days slide by. The magnitude of this moment hasn't quite hit me right and I don't know which mood should bear the lion's share of publication. Yet I cannot hold back any longer. Everyone who is supposed to know already knows, the rest is just what I say here to the readership.

Back in draft I have a couple of stupid stanzas, something about pouring a drink on the sidewalk - something he'd probably say was a waste of good booze. Nothing is quite right.

I suspect I'll be writing about him in several dimensions over the next few weeks so I don't mind this coming off weird. It was during the time I was searching for a good picture to put in the blog in an kind of obituary style when I ran across this one of myself. The expression on my face was just what I felt like, so I 'shopped the picture a little bit to enhance the feeling of watering grass that will never be quite green enough. Of course we are resigned to tending our gardens no matter how unpromising they may seem. It is the triumph of hope over experience.

I know that the best thing I can do to honor my grandfather is to do right by my family and my family name. I'm glad that I feel that I have no choice in the matter. So the words will come and the words will go but what matters most is that I spend the patient time watering. It's my duty. There is certainly joy in that, but there are times when rewards seem far away and all you can think of is frustration and loss. You keep watering but the grass stays brown.

I keep saving this and then rewriting it.

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The Blogopoly meme has finally penetrated my seriousness.

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On Marriage: Ass Backwards Activism

The City of San Francisco has decided to issue same sex marriage licenses in a power grab. When a justice of the peace in SF says, 'by the power vested in me by the State of California, I now pronouce you man and wife' to a gay couple, he is lying. A more truthful rendition would be, 'by the power arrogated by me under color of the authority of the State of California..'

But most gay friendly people think gay marriage is inevitable. It should be although it shouldn't be called marriage. We've been over that already. The primary reason for this positive regard for gay union is one of civil rights. Marrieds get things non-marrieds do not, and it's not fair.

As much as I hate analogies, I will use one here. What the justices of the peace (who are actually disturbing it) in SF are trying to do is to paint blacks white. They claim that their ulterior motive is to guarantee equal rights for gay couples, but if that were the case why not sue those entities which are discriminating against gay couples?

I want to leave that question hanging, but I'm coming to believe that there are a bunch of nutjobs who love living in analogy-land. And in that topsy-turvy universe they can start talking about MLK and unfair discrimination and try to make parallels between this aspect of gay liberation and the Civil Rights Movement. Fair warning, such crap will not be tolerated at Cobb.

The common sense stupid question is whether or not gay individuals as 'marrieds' seek to pass as het individuals. That is to say, if I were a gay man and I were to be 'married' would I wear a gold band on the third finger of my left hand? Would I joke about 'the old battleaxe' and tell my co-workers that I have to be home for dinner or the ball and chain will make me sleep on the sofa? Please tell me the answer to this is 'Hell no' (or 'Hells no!' if you're more like Essex Hemphill).

The Hell Yeah answer is whether or not gays should be free in their privacy. That was decided properly, thank God, in the Lawrence case. The Hell Yeah answer is whether gay couples should have the same legal benefits as married couples. But does this require Marriage? No it does not. It's exactly like saying you should be required to be white to own property.

As RT Ford writes in Slate:

Of course for many of the committed gay couples whom for the first time, if only for a few heady days, can claim to be "legally" married, none of this hand-wringing over doctrine and politics matters. To them, the only politics that matter are the politics of recognition�the city's actions send out the message that there is at least one place where the body politic takes gay couples and their relationships seriously. That message is worth something. But whether it's worth the litigation, political backlash, and stirring up of homophobia sure to follow is a matter of opinion, not of law.

There's a lot of crap hitting the fans over this, but it's definitely not worth it. And I think it is something of an insult to people who try to be tolerant (whining for myself) in the most serious multicultural pluralist way, for us to accept this granstanding as if it were a matter of life and death. Gays are not het, nor are bis or transexuals for that matter. There is no way that society is served by overloading what is well understood with the implications of gay love and life. They are not the same, and that's alright.

Fight the discrimination where it arises. Stop mucking with definitions.

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Corny Cronies

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Ender's Game, The Movie

Whoda thunk? Everyone.

Any sci-fi nut worth his whuffie has read Ender's Game. I read it just a couple years ago because I got sick of science fiction. No I don't want to explain why right now. But as it stands, this is a classic which is not to be missed, and soon enough it won't be, even by the less literate. This is a good thing.

There will be a movie. According to these guys, the folks who wrote the screenplay to X Men 2 will be adapting Card's work to the screen. Anyway, this is big news and all the geeks who made LOTR a smash will be back for a big hunking helping. Word is there will be videogames too.

Two key terms to keep in mind. Ansible and Battle Room. The movie hinges on its ability to make these two concepts look ultra cool as realized for the big screen. OK enough, I'm starting to sound Hollywood.

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The Constitution, By George

Now GWBush looks as if he's gone and done it by asking for a Constitutional Amendment. Just as Sebastian Holsclaw has predicted, Bush has spun against 'activist judges' and the grandstanding in San Francisco.

Bush is rhetorically, just slightly out of bounds. In a way, he is paraphrasing MLK. A Gay Marriage anywhere is a threat to Marriage everywhere. Legally, this is true, but where is the imminent danger? (hmm, where have we heard that before?) The nut of his speech:

Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all.

Today, I call upon the Congress to promptly pass and to send to the states for ratification an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife.

The amendment should fully protect marriage, while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage. America's a free society which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens. This commitment of freedom, however, does not require the redefinition of one of our most basic social institutions.

It sounds as if he's been skimming my notes. I think it's a clever ploy. A Constitutional Amendment is a difficult thing to pass and it probably won't need to. The 'threat' of Gay Marriage is clear and present, but it is not a danger. I think he has simply raised the level of debate and is rattling a sword. In the end, it is not he the president, but the Congress and the States who would decide such a thing.

That said, I'm not sure I see the harm in enforcing what the Defense of Marriage Act is supposed to be about. So long as civil unions will provide equal standing before the law, by what right do activists seek to expand the definition of marriage? Again, we need to hear from the Church, not that it is likely any blonde journalists know a prelate from a pastor.

One more thing, because I keep hearing the grumblings of people who are ready to whinge on about failed marriages. I think there is a red herring being spawned. We are headed towards the age of the the apocryphal story that won't die: the perfect gay couple's travails as not-marrieds, in yet another instantiation of model minority madness. Beware.

In the largest sense, Bush is correct.

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February 23, 2004

Five Science Books

For Ed Felten who says

On the topic of science and technology, depressingly few books were mentioned at all. The top sci/tech scorer was Hawking's A Brief History of Time, with three mentions. Also mentioned were Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Ridley's Genome, and, oddly, Brockman's Greatest Inventions.

I have five, almost. The thing is that I have lived almost all of my career out of a small few non-textbooks in science and technology. They were just that good.

Hare the books I'd recommend today.

So there.

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Winners Only

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On Marriage: The Civilization of Domestic Partnership

The State has an interest, and in particular the Republic has an interest in the legal standing of domestic partnerships as part and parcel of its need to assist in the maintenance of civil society. It is the pursuit of domestic tranquility that acknowleges the value of domestic partnership. So a Civil Union or Common Law Union is perfectly acceptable to be recognized. But it is not the respectability of the State that concerns me so much as the moral authority of the Church. So while it makes perfect sense for me to accept a Common Law Union or a Civil Union, if the Church rewords the rite of Holy Matrimony to be gender neutral, I'm going nuts.

The State should not be obligated to recognize the standing of Married couples within the context of Christian sacraments or other religious rites. It is not for the State to say that 'Marriage is between a man and a woman'. The State should simply acknowledge this common universal understanding. I don't want the State nor any political movements to overstep their bounds with regard to making moral claims about their understanding of Marriage. That is for the Church to assert in the context of its traditions. It is a slippery slope for the State to say Marriage is X if the Church of the First Gay Anabaptists is founded out of schism. How then does the State reconcile its own definition of Marriage to that established by a religious rite? It cannot.

It is reasonable for chruches to defend the definition of Marriage in the context of the integrity of the rite. For example, I expect the Episcopal Church to defend its religious freedom by saying that Holy Matrimony is what they say it is and that any redefinition by the State in such a fundamental way as Gay Marriage would redefine impinges on the Church's free of exercise. But the Church does not have any claim on the legal status of a common law partner and cannot overstep its bounds. But proscribing the state's recognition of a Civil Union the Church crosses the line.

What society comes to recognize will depend upon these two actors doing the right thing. When I was a kid, none of the forms said 'Parent or Guardian' and I always thought it ridiculous to ask questions such as 'Mother's Last Name'. But I don't see such forms as a problem since I acknowledge the responsibility between children and their legal guardians. That doesn't make them parents any more than having a Civil Union between gays makes them husband and wife, but it does establish a vocabulary which is appropriate to their roles.

Maybe I'm parsing words a little too tightly, but I don't have a problem with 'domestic partner' nor much discomfort in 'spouse'. It's already gender neutral. If gays wanted to be recognized as spouses and seek spousal rights and privileges that is acceptable. It still does not make them Married, but civily united. Again, I think that it is crucial that Churches don't amend their rites to accomodate the political or economic needs of gays to secure their civil rights. Nor should the State try to assign value in recognition of religious rites in order to accomodate or reject moral positioning on the responsibilities gays already take for each other. Again, gays who do x and y as expressions of love, trust & respect in their domestic partnerships may or may not overlap with the cultural narrative of Marriage, but that doesn't make it Marriage.

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February 22, 2004

On Marriage: The Incremental Morality of Sexual Love

There is none. To the extent my Christianity informs me, there is nothing more particularly sanctified about generosity in sexual gratification of a partner. If this were true, then the whores would be beatified, and sluts would be saints. The way I look at this, it limits the legitimate aegis of the Church's responsiblity for extramarital sex. Sex itself is not moral currency. Nothing depends upon the act itself, rather it is the context in which the act is performed which gives sex meaning (which may or may not be magnified by the degree of sexual quality). While there may be some sexual rites which offer purification in some religions, there are none in Christianity.

Therefore sexual gratification is a purely personal matter of expression, and as such should not be protected nor proscribed except to the extent to which it is a 'gateway' act to sin. But that would put the Church in the position of encouraging the right sort of sex in order that it be a gateway to acts of charity. Non-starter. Sex itself has no sacraments. So I don't buy into arguments that there is something special about gay sex which requires the protection of marriage. I don't buy it for het sex either. American Christianity has a big hole in it because it doesn't ritualize sex. It doesn't say what good sex is, or what holy sex might look or feel like. All it has is Marriage and a Puritan proscription against pre-marital sex, which is hardly a thick enough ethos for people to respect or follow with any detail. There is a difference between blessing the union and blessing the sex. This, ironically, is where I think those would would argue for a change in the Order of Matrimony have a case. I think it is a weak case, but a legitimate one. Sex is not the church's business; one's salvation does not depend on the manner in which you get your rocks off, but with the quality of love you give and receive.

But here's the kicker. I'm never going to ask to marry another man. But I could love a man as much has his gay sexual partner could. Simply think of that man as my brother. What is so special about the love of those gays who would marry that I do not have for my own brother? What indeed is so transcendent of gay love which ought to be recognized as a sacrament which is more transendant than that love of a mother to her son, or a daughter to her father, or between sisters? Nothing.

Sex does not make love more moral.

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On Marriage: Rule #1

I have tried to pack everything into one post but my mind keeps rebounding and tangenting. I spent most of the day yesterday and a good amount of time today writing about Gay Marriage, then Marriage, then Sex, then Love. I wanted to do a DenBeste but I'm going to break it up. So here's the first installment off the top of the massive essay (which is broken down into segments anyway).

I've come to some fairly solid conclusions about what I think about the prospects for Gay Marriage. Basically, I think the idea is doomed. There is nothing fundamentally changing here and people need to calm down and think it through. I have and I've come to see it in the context of the following several themes. This is going to be a big post, so pack a lunch.

Rule #1. There is Marriage and there is Everything Else
Marriage, as I've said before, is an institution ordained of God, and by Marriage I mean the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. If you modify the vows, it ain't marriage. But I need you to think about it backwards.

The central proposition to the institution of marriage which makes it more than just a relationship is its aspect of permanent committment the basis of which is central to family. This is the essence of what is sacred and critical of Marriage, without which it is nothing more than a formal acknowledge of a relationship between people. So it is not religion that makes marriage sacred though we refer to it as Holy Matrimony, rather it is the transcendent aspect of love embodied in the ideals of Marriage that gives religion appropriates as a sacrament. That is why Marriage is universal and religious rites center on its transcendant aspects the most important of which are permanence and fidelity.

When I say 'central to family' I mean it in the context of the understanding that the Wedding Vow althought it denotes the love between two, connotes the role of parents. DINKs are Marriage Lite. Voluntarily sterile DINKs are life partners for sure, but that's not what we mean by marriage. If it were nothing more than a blessing on a 'significant relationship' then we'd respect the host of the Dating Game (or any of its variants) as much as ministers who marry.

There is a historical majoritarian argument about Marriage which makes it permanent in the culture. The experience of husbandhood is a subset of the experience of married fatherhood and it is this experience of married parenthood that informs what families pass on as knowledge about life. It is a fundamentally and extraordinarily challenging role in whose execution most of us ask ourselves, how the hell did I get here. Honoring of the wedding vow is critical in the enhanced morality and standing of Marriage.

It is this honor which is part and parcel of the transcendence of Marriage. In that way it is much like a soldier's vow or a doctor's creed. For the sake of not only the union of those dedicated but for the sake of others (children) the sacrifice is made.

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February 21, 2004


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Two Degrees

Somebody two degrees away from VisionCircle passed this meme to me, so I'll play. Following PRS, I've landed at Cheesdip.

February 18, 2004
Speaking of hate, I like this 2001 interview with Kelis where she speaks about speaking about hate:

drDrew.com: What's interesting to me is that you sing "I hate you so much right now."
K: That's important, that's really important. No one ever notices that, but that's so fucking key; it's not forever. I say it all the time. It's that momentary feeling and it's a feeling of outrage. People say that hate is a really strong word and it is. "Right now" makes it so real. You can be in love with someone and at that moment you can hate them because of something that they've done or something they've said or however they've made you feel. Sometimes we don't say it because it's like, "Oh, I really love this person.' Fuck that: You've pissed me off really bad and I hate you right now. I can't say it any better.

If you've missed the reference, check out the lyrics to "Caught Out There" off her 1999 debut Kaleidoscope. Frankly that song terrifies me, although it's great to listen to when you're pissed off. Having said that, I'm not really a fan of hers although I think her current single "Milkshake" is an excellent piece of work. If you haven't seen the video for it yet, now's your chance.


Jolography collects the poems which won Paolo Manalo First Prize for Poetry in English at the 2002 Palanca Awards, as well as a special B-Side: an assortment of pieces in various genres, which includes the widely-circulated essay "Being the True, the Good, the Beautiful and Definitive Meaning of 'Jologs' (or When is the Squattah Not the Othah)."

Published by the University of the Philippines Press, Jolography comes in two editions: PLAIN SUCKY PAPER (the one available from National Bookstore and Power Books) and BETTER PAPER (available at the book launching). Cover designed by Melvin de los Santos.

Jolography will be launched on February 10, 2004, 5 p.m. at Cravings Katipunan Avenue together with the short story collections of Rosario Cruz Lucero (Feast and Famine: Stories of Negros) and Romina M. Gonzalez (Welostit and Other Stories).

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Bane of Baristas

Everything you know about Starbucks is wrong. Surprise.

People, please. Here are a few things to keep in mind. We are required to put sleeves on the hot cups and lids on all cups. We could get fired if we don't, because Starbucks could be sued if we don't. We do reserve the right to charge you extra when you ask for a whole fucking tube of caramel. We do reserve the right to hate you immensely if you want a Frappuccino, because those are the bane of every Barista's existence.

Thanks whiteboy.

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February 20, 2004


I felt it a minute ago.

UPDATE: Local, small. Details

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The Bounder Paradigm

I am absolutely certain, having had a large bout of Anglophilia in the days as Granta was starting to live large in the American literary diet during the early 90s, that a bounder is most accurately described as someone who is attempting to subtly (or unsubtly) crash the gates of dignified society through artifice. Sometimes a bounder is easily discovered, other times they malaprop at an inopportune moment and play themselves. A bounder may or may not have good intentions, but he is certainly out of place and knowingly misrepresenting his pedigree.

I cannot be certain if it was I was informed of this through reading Ian Banks, PG Wodehouse, EM Forster, Martin Amis or Julian Barnes but of that usage I am surely correct. I began using it on occasion for precisely that meaning.

Bounders aren't necessarily cads, nor are cads necessarily bounders. Being one or the other might be tolerated under extenuating circumstances, but being discovered as both is damning beyond recovery.

I think all have rightly spun the proper interpretation of caddish behavior as that of a man particularly disrespectful of women, particularly as cads have in common with bounders that they are attempting to make an laudable show despite their more vulgar upbringing / proclivities. I employ the slash because I think it particularly marks the English class sensibilities as to bind those two irrovacably together. So an English gentleman would be constantly on the lookout for any subterfuge. It is thus likely that a bounder might be described as someone who wears the wrong sort of collar, thusly marking him as the wrong sort.

The perjorative of 'a bounder and a cad' underlines the double duplicity of such a certainly reprehensible character.

I always think of 'bounder' whenever I hear someone use the word 'paradigm'.

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Seventeen Dollars Worth of Respect

Kevin Powell says the first intelligent thing I've heard him say in an article on black leadership in the Village Voice that was passed to me. In trying to explain the troubles of hiphop politics he said that you can't treat voters like people who buy your CD. Suddenly the beauty of the insult of throwing $100 of cash at somebody was made apparent to me.

I didn't expect it, but Prince showed in just a few moments why he has earned the respect of millions, beyond which, if he was political, he'd have a lot more truth to speak than any handful of mic-grabbin' kids in XXXL shirts. Prince was the subject of Tavis Smiley's show this evening, and there he was. There's something about his bearing that let me know that I'm going to be listening to him when he is as old as David Bowie. I think he's complete.

I've actually been listening to The Truth recently, and along with Chaos and Disorder, it's one of my favorites of all his works. I haven't got a third of the stuff he's done since Emancipation, so I'm not really up on what other acoustic or jazz he has done since Madhouse other than The Truth. Still, it's plenty and it fits right into my groove, especially 'Don't Play Me'.

This is something of his mood in the guitar duet he played with Wendy(!) after his interview with Tavis. (Is it just me or has Tavis gone to a voice coach?) Real cool and sophisticated. Suddenly, and especially after hearing him talk to Tavis, you realize what fantastic things he can do with his voice.

I'm left thinking about what Prince said about the 'ignant niggas' for whom Lauren Hill threw in a motherfucker in her lyrics. You get the audience you deserve. It's something so simple and true. I'll be certain to use that phrase in the future. And it takes me back to something I should liked to have said about relative immaturity of De La Soul's AOI:Mosaic Thump featuring 'Bumpy Knuckles'. I don't know when they are going to finish that trilogy, it's been over two years since Bionix and I wonder if they are done debating whether or not a party's still a party if the gangbangers don't try to turn it out.

The merchants of the music industry control the hiphop youth, but there's a man in his 40s teaching turntableism at Berklee, and Prince is soully rockin'.

A purchase of a CD isn't respect. It's a youthful impulse. And I think nobody should be surprised that a lot of hiphop won't translate into politics (ok that's all the hiphop bashing for today). When the Master Ps of the world go broke people are going to ask was he a musician or an actor or what? He's a hustler. I thought you knew.

One more thing. What kind of music gets swapped the most on Kazaa? That commercial crap. Merchants of the Business can't even get $17 worth of respect. They don't deserve it.

But the music lives on. Thanks Prince. Your still as cool as the other side of the pillow.

UPDATE: Transcript of the show. Download file

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Dean is Dead

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February 19, 2004

Open Source Macking

Well those damnable scientists are at it again. They're sharing information and independently confirming their theories with emprical evidence.

"One potential strategy for competition is competitor derogation -- using tactics to make a rival inferior to oneself," says study author Maryanne Fisher, from York University in Toronto.

Yes, women who are hot to get a man's attention talk the loudest and longest about other women in the joint. That used to be a mack daddy's trade secret. We've got to stop this science thing soon.

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Who Me?

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I'm Not a Racist, But I Play One At College

Some undergraduate whiners have once again taken center stage in the national debate about race. Last time, if I remember correctly, it was about some scuffle over a bake sale. This time, NPR dedicated several minutes of its national news program to a $250 whites only scholarship.

The real Republican Party has officially cut all ties to and denounced the 'College' Republicans of whatever previously respectable university they attend. And in the great cause of 'free speech' some sophomoric showoff has made himself his fifteen minutes of [in]fame. Somehow this is supposed to show us how college is the place for the creative exchange of ideas. Please somebody tell him that's supposed to be weighty ideas.

Stuff like this makes me think that Janet Jackson isn't so dumb after all. Flash a boob and say 'Racism is Bad'. There you have it, the creative exchange of ideas.

I really do hope some hammer skins present this guy a big check to keep the scholarship rolling. Meanwhile, sarcasm is in order.

Posted by mbowen at 08:53 PM | TrackBack

A Milestone of Sorts

Although I exploit it only about once a month, I sometimes feel guilty about crossposting about VisionCircle. But I am pleased to announce that it's beginning to get some traction. On article has gotten 20 comments and we have a bit of a regular audience.

I purposefully don't have a hit counter at VC because I think it's more important to be correct than popular. So I resist the temptation to pander. The pandering I do here.

But seriously, I'm happy that folks are checking out VisionCircle. Spence is doing seriously good stuff.

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Clutch the Pearls!

John Lee is not only from Brooklyn, he is to Brooklyn. Guess what, on this coast we don't give a shit.

Somebody in the Hamptons got their panties in a twist off some obiter dicta from some NY verbal stylists who, like many if not most NY verbal stylists believe that there is no life west of the Hudson. Until today, I didn't know that we were all supposed to be Nick Denton wannabes or that the trajectory of substance was perturbed as it went through his orbit. Can you say radical sheep?

As it stands, gizmo junkie I may be, I don't need somebody who writes dinky paragraphs pointing to dinky paragraphs pointing to product release notes to get me through the day. Gizmodo sounds cool rolling off the tongue, but hey let it roll. Nor do I expect any [self]-possesed of NY metrosexuals to utter anything remotely useful or harmful to black politics which isn't identity-based teahouse blather.

I'm not going to spend a whole lot more verbiage on this, other to say that while this may be somebody's race problem, it aint mine, nor anyone else's born before 1970 or west of Hoboken.

Class Three, NEXT!

PS: Nick Denton vs Al Sharpton. Who wins?

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February 18, 2004

A Good Group

goodgroup.jpgAs you can see, this target is full of holes. I have painted an upside down smile in the midsection of a virtual man. It's an interesting feeling.

Today is the first time that I fired a real gun. Doc and I have been promising to go shooting for over a year, today we finally went. This is what it's like.

The joint is in Torrance in one of those generic 90s looking business parks. There's a simple steel barred door with at least two dozen stickers on the glass one behind it: Glock, H&K, S&W and various ammo and gun supply manufacturers. Most notable is the big frayed paper sign saying that it's illegal to carry a loaded weapon into the facility. It's grey and rainy today, we step out of Doc's 4WD and head into the joint.

Doc had his backup .38 revolver, but for some unexplained reason, he had no ID on him at all. So he left it in the car and decided this would be all me. The buzz cut kid in the military green puffy jacket pointed us to the glass case of rentals - mostly Glocks. There were .45s, 9mms pistols and some revolvers on the lower shelves. Even though there were a number of interesting looking revolvers and one monstrerous one straight out of Dirty Harry, I was pretty sure I wanted a nice .45. I picked out a Glock 21, a full sized .45 caliber automatic pistol.

They guy took my California drivers licence, charged me 32 bucks and handed me a box of 50 rounds, several targets, some safety goggles and headphones. I signed in on a log, as did Doc and we headed to the range.

The range was behind a wall with large windows. The door was over on the right. There was already a man in one of the 14 lanes. We headed down to stall nubmer 7. I've done this a dozen times in video games and seen it who knows how many times on TV cop dramas. The motor on our target clothesline wasn't working so there wasn't a whole lot of automatic clickety precision in that. We just reached up and pulled the oily cables by hand.

Since Doc is an officer, I'm getting the running commentary the whole time. Assume the barrel is always hot (even though the gun was handed to me in the 'slide lock' position. ) Finger on the body and never inside the trigger area until you're ready to shoot. I'm so glad that I had him to tell me this stuff. So my barrel is down range on the flat tray in front of me, the target is rubber banded to the clothesline thingy and we push it out 15 yards.

Most gun battles happen within 15 yards. That's friggin' scary. That's you at one end of the hallway in your house and another guy popping caps at you from the other end. I'm not freaking out when I hear this, but it is not lost on me.

I feel kinda stupid with the fat headphones on. Doc is half shouting at me and I want to take it off for the same reason I think bike helmets for kids are for dainty people. As I'm stuffing these big fat ball rounds into the 10 round cartridge, a boom comes from the first lane. The other guy started shooting and I half jump out of my skin. This with the headphones on. Damn! Granted, there must be some kind of echo in this joint but suddenly my nerves start going jangly.

I think there's something wrong with my clip. You can't simply push the bullets straight down into it. Doc goes back to the counter and the guy explains. We get the technique, but the spring in this cartridge is murder. When you get to the 7th bullet, you squeeze all the blood out of your thumbs just to get the 8th one in. So the whole time I'm there, I have this strange twitchy feeling in my fingers from the exertion of loading up the clip. We only loaded it up to the max of 10 once.

The gun is laying on the tray in front of me, barrel down range, handle out. So I can grip it with my right hand laying my index finger on the body of the gun. I turn it over and with my left hand, slam the cartridge in. The slide slams into place and it's now ready to shoot. I blade myself, left foot forward, right foot back. My right hand grips the gun and my right arm is straight, my left hand cups my right hand giving dynamic pressure back so that there is tension between my hands both of which control the weapon. I close my left eye and line the white dot on the tip of the barrel inside the slot on the back of the slide. There is no safety on the gun, I squeeze. BOOM!

The first thing I notice about the first time I fired this gun was not the noise, nor the recoil, but the smell. I squeeze off several more and the sensation is very much like having a good sized firecracker go off in your hand, only with slightly more control. These are nothing more and nothing less than explosions. You have all this discipline at your disposal, but the damned thing just explodes in your hand.

I can't see where the bullets are going. I can tell that I'm hitting the target, but for all the precise control I am consciously exerting on this machine, it is reliably unpredictable. When I fire, it bucks up and punches back slightly and then in a fraction of a second it's over. Here's a good way to envision the feeling. Open up your right hand, palm forward as if you were a snob observing the perfection of your nails. Don't extend your arm completely, bend it at the elbow. Now pick a target across the room and line it up just over your middle finger. Eyeball it. OK, hold steady. Now ball up your left fist and punch your right palm. Your fingers jerk and then are suddenly still and your target is somewhere up down right or left of where your right fingers are now. Do it 20 times, and you'll understand the frustration of shooting. You can't predict anything except that if something get hits by the bullet, it's finished.

Granted, I'm using the .45. This is about as big as handguns get. It goes boom, whereas .22s and 9mms pop. I load up the clip the second and third time having observed the patterns I have punched in the target. This is work. That damned spring is too tight and I'm not hitting dead center. Suddenly shooting the big gun doesn't seem like so much fun but I am getting the hang of slamming the cartidge home. My hands are getting tired and I can tell that I'm gripping everything too tightly. I force myself to relax and I start popping good groups. Bam Bam Bam right across the torso. I know it only takes one hit. This time the bad guy doesn't get away.

For the last 14 or so rounds, I take the man down and put up the bullseye target. I wheel it out to the very end and end up popping it 4 out of 14 times from the kneeling postion. I'm tired. I'm exhilirated. I'm wiser than before.

What have I learned?

Guns themselves are a lot simpler than they seem when all you hear about them is talk. Shooting is a lot more difficult than it appears - there are very real and very serious skills involved. The ritualization of handling and dealing with guns which sounds like fanaticism when discussed is not fanaticism. It's a necessary discipline for a machine whose proper use involves chance. I hope I never have to use one for real. If you think the drama of 'Put That Gun Down' is overstated on film or TV, believe me you really don't know. If it ever comes to a 'him or me' situation - hell, I don't even want to think about it.

If you have an emotional or political position about guns, my recommendation is to shutup and go shoot one. Do it out of curiousity, never out of necessity or spite or anything like that. Do it on a nice sunny day. Find a cop or somebody who knows guns well to take you.

I'll be back.

Posted by mbowen at 01:08 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Friend Recovery

These days have me working in an odd set of ways. I think that I'll never quite understand how it is that people know me or think about me. It's deep and basic and I think for me, fundamentally imponderable. It's why I'm a writer. I don't believe that I'll ever be certain things to people, and it keeps me explaining and expounding.

That's why searching for friends is always a fascinating compulsion for me, and it's what I'm in the middle of doing these days. Since I joined Orkut a week or so ago, as prompted by George Kelly (my Friend!), I've been sending out invitations like a madman, thinking about acquaintences past.

As part of this, I've hooked up with my highschool alumni network. (too late for the 25th reunion however) So now things are happening in my biorhythmic extreme. Mike T., whom I haven't seen in at least 3 years dropped by the house the other night. Rick just emailed me. If there is anyone to whom I owe a great deal, it is Rick. (He's Richard to me but goes by Rick, heaven only knows why). He is responsible for introducing me to Star Trek and is one of only three living witnesses to the first computer program I ever wrote, 'NUTZ'. Stewie is in the loop too. I haven't seen Stewie since '98, and then only for the reunion even though we live in the same town. He has two boys at the highschool, damn! Then I see in a completely different section of the Kwaku Network, an advert from Don G. He's now a meditative guru!

These wonders of wonders are not too much to take and I hope I deal with them well. As I wrote in my quick update at the alumni site, I've moved about 8 times in 10 years. I have yet to have in my life one refrigerator neighbor - there is nobody in my life to plop on my sofa as casually as I do. I think all those are the people who don't have email. The people who think that when I sit at the computer I'm not speaking to anyone but the computer. At the same time, I am taking my e-pals for granted as they play second fiddle for the moment to people who only knew me as a teen. When have I really spoken to EJ Flavors as a person and not as an audience? See? This is why I'm f'd up.

Along with my Rock Recovery, this Friend Recovery is, I think, an important part of my growing up. It's about making amends with those things and people in your life that you failed to give adequate attention as you were busy trying to get to where your step on Maslow's pyramid wasn't pinching your last nerve.

In my youth I always wondered when I was going to quit - when I was going to have the passion for things in my life that all the people around me were having. I think this is a very critical question for young black men in general although I can only be specific to my generation, and there's an excellent story that I'll write next tangential to this. But you see at some point I got used to young men around me failing in ways I couldn't allow my self to fail. I refused to become consumed with the anger and frustration attending that failure, consequently I couldn't be as much of a friend as ordinary circumstances would allow. I had to choose worlds because I knew that the small racially constricted one was not for me. In choosing worlds, one chooses game faces and allies.

But these men from my highschool past were always my choices and yet fate spread us across the country. Our parents should have been refrigerator pals, but we came from artificial ghettoes and fissioned with nuclear force from those places. Now, half a life away, I'm trying to recover.

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February 17, 2004


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Nick Cracks Me Up

I admit a fondness for slapstick video. Nothing quite doubles me over with laughter as some plaid jacketed slacker crunching his nuts on a handrail he tried to grind on his skateboard. It is this same twisted sense of humor that allows me to follow American politics with amusement. But since I have a respect for dignified sentences I don't get to laugh out loud as I should. Thankfully, Nick Gillespie has put the right soundtrack to the action on the Left. Big yucks man. Have a giggle.

Posted by mbowen at 09:51 AM | TrackBack

Open Source Gaming

It's probably old news to some hardcore PC gamers, but some of the founders of the XBox team at Microsoft defected early in the program. One of these lights ended up a joint called Infinium.

They've got a box called the Phantom which, with presumeably commonly available engines, will allow ordinary game programmers to develop games without jumping through the licensing deals and red tape of dealing with the big platform vendors. Nice

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February 16, 2004

The Case Against 13

Found over at Howard Owens, a sensible rant against Proposition 13. The Republican party should be on notice that it's old fetishes aren't going to work a whole lot longer. This is a sacred cow ripe for sacrifice. With arguments like these, it's hard to shrug it off.

Prop. 13 is filled with loopholes that make it easy for businesses to avoid reassessment (which would increase property taxes) when the businesses change hands.

Meanwhile, individual Californians are overburdened with income and sales taxes that could and should be lower (stimulating growth), and corporations pay one of the highest tax rates in the nation (lower corporate taxes would help keep jobs in the state), and state and local governments are grossly under funded.

There are ways to fix Prop. 13 that would still protect home ownership, but also help the state fix the structural deficiencies in its budget. These changes could increase government revenue by $5 billion to $10 billion annually, minus any reduction in other taxes.

Posted by mbowen at 09:39 PM | TrackBack

The Boohab Sleeps

The other day a student approached me to talk about some of my Boohabian work. It has been about six years since I wrote this intro as a part of the eRace Project.

I Googled up Boohab and found him an any number of interesting places. There's an archive from the Slate Fray in 1998. There are the demographic stats of Jasper Texas that I put together after the murder of James Byrd. Of course there's the mysterious Geib who attempted to make a poor example of my funky writing to his Jr High students by calling it postmodern drivel. There's my stuff at Abuzz, which used to be a pretty cool place. What happened? My Abuzz profile points to the defunct Boohabian Slamdance, which is about 10 posts long. When I discovered I couldn't argue as Boohab does in blog form (thankfully) I dropped that idea. Hey check out that Radio format - long live MT!

The Boohab sleeps these days, and there's no good reason to wake him up. Not while I'm doing Cobb's work anyway. I already have too many agendas. But it sure is wonderful to go back in time to the days when I had the patience to do stuff like Black Hell (not that I really did).

I am really glad that there are young folks out there with the drive and determination to pick up the ball from where I left off. There's a lot of fire that needs to be expended on the racial subjects. Things are a lot more mushy these days - racial dialog is like cable TV, 500 diverse channels but are they really saying anything? No. Anyway, if you are so inclined, do take a tour back in time and review the Boohab. I think he was pretty cool.

Posted by mbowen at 09:25 PM | TrackBack

Alter Call

I continue to be inspired and impressed with our new Rector. Yesterday she initiated something I don't believe I've ever seen at St. John's. We had an alter call.

But let's go to the sermon first. She quoted from Luke this time in a reading of what sounded very much like the Beatitudes. But Luke's version of the Sermon on the Mount is half a tale of blessing and half a tale of woe.

Luke 6:20-26

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.

22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.

23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.

25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.

26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

She spoke of balance and turning and in this passage she went in a direction that compelled me to think of Christ's understanding of contingencies. For me, echoes of the Tao were inevitable. For if Christ suggests that the weak have hope and the hopeful have weakness and that our love should extend to those who suffer, surely this is not a one-sided affair. It is a confirmation of all redemption because those who will be made low are those to whom we must reach out yet again. Beware, your position is not fixed.

Yet again she appeals to our desire to believe that love is eternal and conquers all, very powerful. As she prays, she invokes God's use of us as instruments of his grace. To the rich, to the poor, to all who will suffer woe as a result of their accomplishments, to all who will be blessed with joy in remission of their suffering.

During the prayers of the people Rev Collins called to the people to join her at the alter. Say what? As the St. John's Choir, those angels, sang Blessed Assurance the entire pace of the service slowed to a crawl.

What's magical about this place is the quiet. In all my years I have never experienced the plaintive quality of the swooning songs played to a quiet room. Instead of the spirit filled arpeggios and funky blended notes with the organ on full swell, the a slightly Puritan discreteness in near silence filled this large stone church. Usually it is during the quiet after a loud stomping, while people's hands are still raised and swaying, during the times of the calming 'Yes Lords' that this sense of Holy Spirit is present. But here it was in the middle of the prayer - the quiet hugging meditative prayer at the Episcopal alter. It is a potent blend of the African and the Anglican that I have never seen before. I was as teary as I've ever been, but that's not the end of it.

Apparently, a skunk under her house managed to destroy 17 of the reverend's suits. So she was feeling a bit out of it. So immediately after the first alter call, we had an alter call in reverse. This was something extraordinary beyond even high expectations. 100 people left their pews to come and pray for the minister. It was the most touching moment I've experienced in quite some time. Every once in a while there are moments at which men have a certain pride in their tears. There it is.

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Barbershop Guide

Everybody wants to be a critic, especially those of us with more than one email address. So if you're like I used to be, any new black film in theatres represented a golden opportunity to bloviate about the disconnect between black images on film and reality.

In light of the fact that there are so many intense discussions about black film and the images of blacks on film, I have looked for and discovered some ways to alleviate the stress associated with what should otherwise be an enjoyable experience.

Here follows a seven step guide to enjoying the new Cube Vision film, Barbershop 2. I hope you find this guide applicable to other films with black casts as well.

  1. Three words: It's Not Important.
  2. Have more than 10 real black friends.
  3. Recognize that you get no credit for saving somebody else's 7 dollars. No matter how influential your criticism, theatregoers will always say it's their decision.
  4. Resist all temptation to think that you know more than Donald Bogle.
  5. [Try to] write your own damned screenplay.
  6. Understand that whatever film you are watching, it can never be as bad as Bulworth.
  7. Go to see the movie in a non-black neighborhood. If you find yourself laughing at one joke that nobody else gets, you forfeit all rights for crabby criticism.

I used to be plagued by such matters as black images on film. But I applied the Girlfriend Theory. The way to get rid of the undesireable one is to spend all of your attention on the desireable one. Therefore Samuel R. Delany, and all those things... what do they call them? Oh yeah, books.

That doesn't change the fact that I remain ever the critic, I just have a simpler set of standards for film than I have for literature and other ideas. So Barbershop was a lot of fun for me.

For the first time in a while I purchased some new duds for my homeboy suit. This was the day I closed my Irvine deal (the documentation for which I ought to be completing this afternoon, bum) so the entire afternoon was destined to be a sigh of relief. Also, having spent an entire afternoon at Magic Mountain the previous weekend, my defenses against the slacker ethic was kind of weak and pockmarked. So going incognegro felt like a great idea.

I headed to the mall and left the laptop in the trunk. I jumped straight over to Champs and got two XXL athletic shirts for 20 bucks. (USC Trojans, of course). (Two days later I found myself face to face with an old Trojan at the donut shop who informed me that I just missed (insert famous footballer here). I suddenly realized that by donning this athletic gear I am fronting like I'm a fan and must therefore prove myself cognizant from time to time. Damn!) Bought my ticket and changed in the bathroom. Ahh, relaxation.

So what about the movie? It was better than the first one in every way. Plus it didn't have Anthony Anderson, who is not that funny. It still doesn't give a college man a warm feeling inside. I just went to my own long lost barber the other day, and there are always college men in the barbershop, not just old brokedown mens. But what is up with this brother going from a political flunky back to cuttin' heads? That's a pretty sorry career path. But that's about all I can gripe about it, because it was pretty damned funny.

The baggin' scene on the BBQ deck was straight hilarity. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Cedric pulled it off. Even though his character's accent fluctuated back and forth, it was funny enough. But wait, his makeup was pretty f'd up half the time too. They needed to fix that.

Aside from the whole working class ethic which uppity brothers like me find tiring, I think the entire film was on target - so much so that it stands up to being used as examples in political talk which I am sure we'll hear no end of in the near future.

I'm looking forward to Beauty Shop. The franchise is alright.

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Constitutional Rights, Internationally

Was Thomas Jefferson truly talking about the course of human events, or just whining about some deal that went sour for him and his white male buddies? This is a question at the heart of the value of the Constitution to humanity, vs the applicability of it to citizens of the United States of America, for whom no particular loyalty oaths are required.

I raise this question in light of the controversy over expatriot workers from Mexico whose residence in the US is a matter of legal and moral debate. I say that it's not wrong, it's just illegal, yet others disagree. If we separate the moral from the legal in this matter, what does that say about our position on the consitution? If the Constitution is a transcendant document then we must believe that it applies to all people whether or not they reside in the United States. If we value the Constitution simply because it is our Constitution, the we are buying into cultural relativity. So long as Country Two wants to have cannibalism, that's their business. It's their national sovereignty vs ours.

It is reasonable to assume that all Constitutional Rights are negotiated. That is to say, you may assert a right under the Constitution of the United States, but there is always a question of economy as to whether or not your right will be defended. But what is the practical limit? What excuses can we make up to abrogate the rights of human beings?

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Double Spoof

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February 15, 2004

The Variant

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On Data Mining

Over at Crooked Timber, social scientists and economists take potshots at data mining. Over here in the Business Intelligence field, there's a lot more potential for it.

As an added value part of a product suite that I am developing, I will be offering some data mining. Coming from the realm of enterprise computing, Data Mining has a mixed reputation, but that stems primarily from the difficulty it is to implement and maintain as a system with regard to the technical expertise required to properly interpret data and that required to weed through BS products.

Of the many DW projects I've been on, there have only been a very small few who expressed interest in data mining and only one or two who have invested. Part of the reason is because unlike social scientists, those folks that I deal with have more real information than they need to make intelligent decisions, furthermore their business models are not immediately amenable to new discovery.

In the first case, as is well known in retail, when you have millions of transactions at the checkout counter at your disposal, you already have more than enough information to handle most inventory and product profitability problems. Since the retailer's problem is pricing according to supply and demand, mining things like purchase affinity is only icing on the cake. For the most part, all the merchandise in the store is going to remain in the same aisles and there are only endcaps to change. So figuring out the 28 products to feature there (especially considering the market research already done by suppliers of endcap goods like potato chips and soda) doesn't require extraordinary precison.

Despite the apocryphal tales of diapers and beer sold together by dads making a run, there aren't a great number of data mining success stories in retail. It doesn't make that much of a difference to the bottom line. Speaking of hearsay, a certain large retailer has confided that they have many many terabytes of data and it's difficult enough for them just to store it much less make mining passes over it for interpretation.

In the second case, there is always a proverbial prophet crying in the wilderness about some problem with a company's business model. The example I love to give had to do with what actually happened in one of the biggest and best systems I put together back in the early 90s. At Philip Morris USA, the proud owner of the world's second most powerful brand behind CocaCola, there was some slight fear about the market share dominance of Marlboro. As I designed and built their tracking system which gave monthly market share numbers (when that was the most frequent numbers were published) with the aid of an economist and *the* statistics text, we programmed some modified confidence intervals. These told us that it was reasonable to assume that the newly arrived bargain brands would actually eat into Marlboro's lunch.

At the time, such a thing as discounting Marlboro was practically unthinkable. PM had declared as much publicly and it was well known that if PM ever reduced the price of its premium cigarettes, it would spell the beginning of the end for the entire industry's legendary profitability. Considering all that, it really didn't matter what our fancy computer projections said the impact of 'Basic' and other generic tobacco products.

Some time later, however (we like to think based upon the information we were able to show) PM actually did discount Marlboro. The stock dropped several percentage points and the industry swooned. Then people got over themselves and adjusted to the new normality. Nevertheless, these changes took place in spite of the psychographic data and the company's sense of the that data which said brand loyalty would survive price competition.

I primarily think of data mining in the context of multidimensional analysis. 'Bucket Shaping' is how I will use it in my next application. Predicting which factors people use as customers is a dicey business, and it's reasonable to pay a marginal amount to gain a marginal edge. Honing that edge and finding the real cost benefit is no simple matter and certainly not used to the same ends of independently verifyable theoretical ends as with social scientists, but marketing is non-trivial work, and marketing managers do buy it.

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February 14, 2004

A Dumb Idea

I really suck at going into certain situations. One of those situations is introducing myself outside of the context of a game with fairly clear rules. So the other day I tried something silly and it ended up going, not bad.

Starbucks at Ladera is crammed to the rafters with the kinds of folks you never hear about. The one to my immediate left is Reggie Cook, a novelist and screenwriter.

Now that I'm fairly certain that I'm going to remain in Los Angeles, it makes a lot of sense for me to try and be more friendly and hookup with lots of folks. That includes hollywood people, I guess, of necessity. It also means rejoining the black coterie that I left behind long ago. So that combination made me think that I jump into a conversation about the novel I wrote 14 years ago with Reggie Cook, screenwriter. He represents my first attempt to shake off whatever it is that goes cuckoo inside my head when I hear Hollywood talk and see extraordinarily expensive automobiles at the Starbucks owned by Magic Johnson in Ladera.

I asked him if he would give my old novel a decent burial. It started off as a novel but I kept thinking of it as a film, and I hated myself. I realized my entire narrative style of writing owed everything to motion pictures and not to the craft of writing novels at all. I had what I thought were great ideas in an epic story with fascinating characters.. don't we all.. but the whole thing never came together. So I offered him the pieces.

He rejected me of course. He's a professional writer. He doesn't even have enough time to get his own ideas into final form, even though he can afford to lounge around at Starbucks. What could he possibly care about my words? He told me to hold on to it. It may mean something to me later.

I wanted to be free and clear of the need to write for money. I still do. Giving away 'Jordan Crossing' would be a kind of confirmation that I don't really care about Hollywood and their twisted cultural productions. Because 14 years ago I was obsessed with sharing my unique vision of Black Los Angeles with the world. In those days, before 'Boyz in the Hood', before the Riot, the most explosive thing about South Central was its anonymity despite its potential. I was going to describe it all, and I still may. But as a software guy who did guerilla poetry, I liked my outsider status. I enjoyed not ultimately desiring to break into 'the business' nor envying their status and influence. I didn't need the money so I could live the virtue of not wanting it and not jumping through the strange hoops Hollywood crafts for its initiates. A decent burial for 'Jordan Crossing' meant I could make the final sacrifice to my own purity.

Now I still have it. I have the epic novel about blacks actually taking over. The characters in the positions only imagined 14 years ago have become real in some ways and been long forgotten in others. So perhaps it is time to give it another look.

I swear that it is at least as good as Barbershop 2, which is pretty damned good.

Posted by mbowen at 08:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 13, 2004


Nope. Not gonna blog today. Can't risk it. This doesn't count. Read something I wrote before.

Posted by mbowen at 09:35 PM | TrackBack

At Long Last

It looks like my time in the barrel is over. I am days away from signing a couple of contracts that are going to finally pay me what I deserve.

For those readers of Cobb who have followed the Diary, even though I haven't given all of the gory details, you know that I have suffered the dregs of unemployment for about 8 months now. July 16th was the last day of my prior contract, and since then I have survived on unemployment, a housepainting job, a rather interesting if low paying stint in a test lab, and the humbling of a significant number of personal loans.

Each and every month the prospect that I would not be able to pay rent has been real and for long stretches, a McDonald's lunch was considered an exhibitant luxury.

No longer. In fact, things are jumping off. The cash flow hasn't started but our business proposals have been very well accepted and the phones are ringing. People are even sending me resumes. Everyone we speak to thinks that our franchise is enviable. Now it's just time to execute and hope that 'net 30' clause is respected.

I've got two customers right now. One in Irvine and another near LAX. I'll be onsite next week doing work. So the blog volume will decrease and I'll start talking tech again. I'll even be able to get a quarter pounder whenever the itch strikes.

Yesterday for the first time since Beverly Hills, I got suited up in my lucky Hollywood suit and negotiated my Irvine deal. This time, I had the benefit of Nicky's straight razor upside my head. I was so clean I was shining. I haven't seen Nick in 3 years, but I'm going back to the 'hood on the regular for the ultra clean shave. I had him keep the change.

This is going to be a good year.

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February 12, 2004

Spoiling for a Fight

Here in Los Angeles, I pay little attention to the entertainment industry, but the news of the Comcast hostile bid for Disney will have people talking so loud that it will be hard to ignore.

I know a little bit about Disney, primarily from the disgruntled employees that seem to stream out of that joint who cross my path. A family friend, M who lives in Long Beach, left the company several years ago and still wrinkles her nose when Disney is mentioned. 'Mousewitz' is what she called it.

At a particularly low point in my career, I actually interviewed to work there. I knew that there was a huge SAP project going on across multiple feifdoms and that they would soon be in dire need of some serious BI work. But they suffered under the delusion that I would trade dollars for Disney passes. HA! At any rate, I couldn't be bothered to tackle that giant, even though it would have been a prize worth claiming. Working for a stovepipe organization with a reputation for nasty political infighting and working people to death was not a good deal on balance.

I'm sure there are other folks with takes on Disney and I hope we hear them. But if I were able to wager, I'd bet the current inmates of Disney would be glad to have a new corporate parent. But knowing what I do of the ruthlessness of Disney Management, it's going to be a big fight.

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Baldilocks is a Star

Baldilocks has the final word on the National Guard non-story. I think she emerges triumphantly and demonstrates the power of the blogosphere to reconcile facts with people on the ground familiar with them. Sharp work, right on, kick ass, case closed. NEXT!

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Two Cents on Nielsen

Rafe speaks about the primativism of being a Nielsen family. I had the privilege of working for these folks several years ago and I can personally attest that they have a very, how shall I say it, proprietary way of looking at the world.

Believe me when I say that there are people at Nielsen who think they could teach the US Census a thing or two about statistics. Not Invented Here Syndrome? See Nielsen as the prime example. So it doesn't come as a surprise that even last year, Nielsen families still submitted handwritten journals to the company to report their watching habits.

Well now some of that is changing. Good.

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Guarded Records

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February 11, 2004

Enemies and Haters

VJ asks what is Bush afraid of? He's afraid of the truth, not because he himself can't handle it, but because his enemies cannot and of course will not.

I understand what they are afraid of, but it's something you can't quite really know until you are wealthy and/or powerful in a kind of untouchable way. The simplest way to explain it is when I go back to my friend Bernard. Bernard was some sort of Engineering major and he'd probably kill me because I don't remember. But anyway, one day we're out cursing and spitting on the basketball court early one afternoon. Bernard has a bad attitude on the court and while we're there some homegirls smack their lips and roll their eyes at him. We ignore them. They turn their backs on us and walk off muttering about how trifling we are not respecting them blah blah blah.

What nobody said was that Bernard was pissed off because he was failing optics, which was the final level of college physics he had to take if he wanted to be electrical engineering. (That was it). He couldn't stand the prospect of having to be mechanical engineering - after all this was the 80s and who cares about mech E's (or worse yet Industrial Engineers). But when you are out balling at the park, you are not about to get any sympathy from the homegirls because you are struggling with 4th year Physics.

Two summers ago, when I got cut from a project in Houston, it was the middle of the Enron / Andersen scandal. I lost a gig that was paying me something north of 70 bucks an hour, and of course a lot of people were kicking Andersen to the curb. I learned the lesson again. When you have reached a certain level of success, your failures don't mean a hill of beans to the ordinary joe.

Now neither I nor Bernard have reached the point in our lives where we have professional haters dogging us. Although B sold his little business back in the 90s and cruised around in a convertible Porsche for a while (dating waitress/actress/models, aka WAMs) he got a little bit of hateration, especially from his old girlfriends. But that's nothing compared to being a Bush.

So understand that while Bernard could blow off the homegirls and live with himself, human nature is such that the failure of him to acknowledge the homegirls means he made enemies. They let him off the hook because they dissed him like he was a triflin' n-----. But they would have pressed the issue if they knew he was a real gentleman (or at least he was until he got the Porsche).

So I believe GWBush is saying, yeah I ditched some National Guard BS way back in the day. I don't even pay attention to that mealy stuff - understanding that there are millions of Americans who do (or need a positive head nod from the b-ball court out of common courtesy and respect). But he did what he had to do way back when and got the necessary credential - what does that matter now, he's the President for chrissake.

Haters don't get over slights like this, and they don't want to acknowledge the truth that their concerns are bigger than the Presidents can ever be. But since this is politics, Bush has to pretend that it's as important to him as it is to everyone else. (I'm sure this same rationale applies to Valerie Plame).

An enemy is someone who won't lift a finger when you're failing because they oppose you in the matter you're failing in. A hater is someone who will point a finger at your every failure because you don't recognize them. So who is really concerned about the integrity of the National Guard's personnel records? Nobody.

UPDATE: Isn't the substance of the 'duty evasion' question that as President someone who was evasive would be incapable of leading the military? It seems to me that for a 'dodger' GWBush has done admirably well in the ass-kicking department.

Posted by mbowen at 03:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Whitewater Rafting

Once upon a time there was a fishing expedition for criminal stuff in Bill Clinton's past. Several people made a career of asking people to Move On to more important matters. Now is the time to take that old lesson and apply it to contemporary events. In other words, leave the questions about the National Guard behind.

There is no there there. Give it up. The best you can say is that it's a character issue.

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Good Right Reading

Who's newer, neo-conservatives or paleo-conservatives?

Samuel Francis writes in again, theAmerican Conservative that "paleo-conservatism developed as a reaction against trends in the American right during the Reagan Administration, including the bid for dominance by the neo-conservatives." So funnily enough, it's the paleo-conservatives who are the more recent establishment.

Great reading here.

Posted by mbowen at 11:17 AM | TrackBack

February 10, 2004

Why Grutter Is Wrong

Diversity is merely a rationale of convenience, used to justify otherwise unconstitutional race discrimination when the real agenda is to promote those pleasurable side effects listed above. When push comes to shove, diversity takes the back seat. Diversity is, at best, the side effect rather than the goal.

I just finished writing about the retardation of child helmet safety laws when I got an email notifying me about the above over at BTD. So while I take issue with the putative severity of this 'unconstitutional race discrimination', I acknowledge that it's not the first law that gives dainty people comfort.

I've been meaning to write this, but I'll just stick it in here for context. It has been happening recently that some kid who likes to call blackfolks names has been making private chatrooms on XBox Live.

The other night I was XBoxing Live against several other automobile racers in Project Gotham Racing 2. We happened to be in Nuremburg. So this cat from Kentucky was spouting some of the most unhealthy spew I've heard in a long time.

I grew up during a time when at major colleges and universities, you were very likely to encounter Klan propaganda on the bathroom stalls. I've also seen what it's like for cops to pull guns on black kids riding their bikes. I've studied enough about racism to know how destructive it can be. Yet I am strangely tolerant of jokers who brag about how many 'slopes' he killed in Korea.

There is a basic principle at work here. The more devastation one witnesses, the more ridiculous name-calling itself is. Chalk this one in the category of the Failure of Anti-Racism. Class Three is not always a gateway to Class Two or Class One. So who cares about talk? Only dainty people who have decorous conversations.

So here we have people in 2004 decorously suggesting that MLK would be against Affirmative Action because diversity is racist. Are they right? Does racial discrimination for the purposes of inclusion violate the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement? Hell no, but it violates the principle of colorblindness which was the dominant ethic of sensitive white liberals who tiptoed their way through the minefields of Black Power politics in the 70s when crossover was the best that anybody could imagine happening in American culture. But we ought to understand, dammit, that all pop culture is dominated by black popular culture, not because those artists 'happen to be black' but because there is something very powerful and deep going on there. Everything colorblindness is, cannot explain Outkast. And similarly it cannot explain why Justin Timberlake is 1/2 of Michael Jackson and 20 years too late. I'll offer a clue. Black culture isn't racial, but racial segregation made it so. So everything substantial about black culture has been subsumed by race.

Understanding that the substantial power of what black culture is and how African Americans have been its default guardians because of segregation should give us a clue as to what's going on with regard to diversity. But I'm going to take a quick tangent to help folks understand that it's not a specifically black unique phenomenon.

When Frederick Douglass was the man, he would speak about 1/3 of America being African. Those days are long gone and somehow this nation has become something incredibly more powerful in many dimensions. How? European immigrants. The huge difference between America in 1890 and America a mere 50 years later was a couple of wars and as it was popular to say way back when, our German Jewish scientists were better than their German Jewish scientists. 'Racial' diversity and integration transformed this country into something it could never have been without it. Was it racial? You make the case, either way. Try it.

Getting back to Affirmative Action. If you think of it as the internal Ellis Island for the long hated and despised African nations internal to America, then you can see the parallel. Blackfolks change their names and leave the old country of the ghetto behind, they show their stuff and America changes. Was it racial? It will always be interpreted as racial because it was racial ideology that created the gulf in the first place, but the skills, dedication and talents African Americans bring to the American mainstream are not embedded in their race, so it's not really race mixing that is making America better. It's the integration of separate people into the mainstream - people with different dreams of American success that changes the American dream itself. Denzel Washington's success in America changes what American success is. Michael Jordan's success in American changes what American success is. Is it racial? Is it in their genes? No, it's in their separateness - purposefully integrating the separate people makes the difference.

So depending on your position on integration, what Diversity means changes. And this is where race/skin color distorts the entire picture. I'll try to make this simple. Assuming we are talking about University, my position is simple and clear: for undergraduate admissions it doesn't matter. By the guidelines of Bakke, dont' create a separate class, but allow the separate people to establish a critical mass so that University becomes a real melting pot. Meritocracy be damned. There is no meritocracy, there are only markets.

Trying to isolate, refine, categorize and monitor the 'diversity factor' is an exercise in mind-numbing futility. Count noses by color and racially integrate. This requires discrimination. This requires racial preferences. So long as racial integration isn't a reality in the aegis of the promotional entity, be it a university or an employer, there is a public duty to desegregate. Why do we have to be reminded of this? It's nothing more or less than Bussing was in Boston and the reactions for and against it are coming from the exact same sentiments - who 'belongs' and who doesn't - by race. But if diversity is to have some greater meaning than just color integration (and we have the information systems to track it), then it can mean integration by income, by gender, by sexual preference, by anything. If it goes by geography to do some socio-economic integration that's my preference because it alleviates the socio-economic disparities inherent in the legacy of racial segregation, which is what MLK really wanted.

So these are the eggs you need to break in order to make America better by opening the floodgates penning people in ghettoes. Put upon people who feel they get a raw deal because of Affirmative Action have gone ahead and gotten new laws to protect their dainty souls. And if they feel like calling people who support Affirmative Action 'racists', hey by all means let them. But people who have been behind ghetto walls have been called a lot worse and they really don't give a flying fart about that label especially considering the dainty direction from which it comes. They demand Affirmative Action because it's their Ellis Island. It's socio-economic opportunity, and that's very hard to deny people for long.

UPDATE: If this entire essay seems completely tangential to the point of political diversity of academic staff, it only goes to show how sidetracked the entire issue of 'Diversity' has become. I agree with Keiran Healy on his point about stilted labor markets. Again, this is a political question about 'who belongs' in a culture relatively devoid of fungible honor.

Posted by mbowen at 09:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Clark Fades Away

The horses are starting to realize that even though they haven't reached the backstretch, the wagers are all changing. Placing and showing don't mean anything here. It's winner take all.

We might like to pretend that the Democratic primaries are something other than a horserace, but that's foolish. Had the Democrats been able to stop so many candidates from getting started, people wouldn't be so concerned about who was left. But this has been a battle royale from the beginning. Yet can anyone say that the differences between the candidates was so enormous that a great deal of time was necessary for the public to pick and choose? No. What was the difference between Harkin and Clinton back in the 90s? Who knows? Who indeed cares? There have only ever been this season, front runners and dark horses, but they were all on the same path. Beat Bush.

All the Democrats really care about is putting a Democrat in the Oval Office, which is actually more of the same stupidity that put GWBush in office. Kerry is going to be the man, but all his games of 'I woulda' don't mean a hill of beans. What's more important is his 'I'm gonna', and now is the time to pay close attention to what he's saying, but more importantly, what he's capable of.

Deep down in my gut, I'm glad Bush went to war, because I really would have a difficult time thinking what would become of the Empire had we not. In a time when Janet Jackson's breast can make our broadcast media jump through hoops it's a good thing to know that there are some people who are serious enough to fight and die. The sooner we have a real War Channel on cable, the better. It seems that only War is big enough to yank American heads out of American sphincters these days. If that's what it takes to keep this nation robust, sobeit. Remember we have a generation of children who think of Barney when they hear the melody to 'When the Saints Go Marching In'. Do I believe that War Is Good For The Health Of The Nation? Yeah, for about 3 more years. Bring me Bin Laden's head, discombobulate the jihadists and then we can sip tea.

That Clark has faded away still provides a minor discomfort. It's not so clearly the economy, stupid and these Wars are not complete. I'd rather have a soldier as Commander in Chief than someone who can be snookered by ideological policy wonks. I grumble a lot about Rumsfeld's lording over the Pentagon, but I have no new stories about that. Still, it concerns me that the politics of GWBush's terse speechery leave so much to be interpreted and second-guessed. If he wasn't so damned thick there would have been many more phrases from his lips than 'WMD's. When I need sanity on these matters, I have to read Tony Blair. Clark, I think, would have given me more satisfaction. We still have North Korea and Iran to deal with.

So the reason I am wary of Kerry is because I know that as a Senator, he knows exactly what he needs to do in order to reverse the Republican flotsam which has become part of the shoreline since Clinton left office. So he's likely to generate waves to wash that back out to sea and leave his own Democratic jetsam. None of that will matter if he doesn't make the big call and raise taxes on everybody. If that's what it takes to get the country right, he'd better do that - we all know Republicans don't have the balls.

Being a Republican gives me an out, of course. I can accentuate my isolation from the wage slaves and wangle my way through as a pseudo-rich person. I know I'll do some of that anyway, but I still retain enough patriotism to care about the Domestic Agenda. Not for ideological reasons mind you. I just like Americans to do well. So I can find ways to profit through four years of Nanny Statism and not lose my mind like Freepers do.

The Democrats will show us how hungry they are to beat Bush. As I said before, I can live with that if it's not Gephardt, Dean or Kucinich. Lieberman always rubbed me the wrong way so I'm glad it's not him. That Clark is falling off is only insignificant because Kerry is now the man to beat (who won't be). A Democratic populist is the last thing this nation needs while we are on the front burner of geopolitical change.

So let's start looking at Kerry real hard.

Posted by mbowen at 09:09 PM | TrackBack

Because You Love Falco Too

“Dreh' dich nicht um, schau, schau,
der Kommissar geht um!
Er wird dich anschau'n
und du weißt warum.
Die Lebenslust bringt dich um.”
Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

Posted by mbowen at 07:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Geek Love

Ever since I was a kid I wanted it. Maybe you did too. I'm talking about hardware. A Batcave full of gorgeous hardware.

I can still remember the Memorex commercial from the 80s, where the guy walks up to this massive wall of stereo equipment, drops in the cassette and retires to his big plush leather chair. He clicks the remote and the music blasts so loudly that it blows his hair back and pushes back his glass of champagne. That was my fantasy. I wanted the wall.

And these days, there's eBay. A completely amazing development in and of itself. It has what I desire. Big fat hardware in big fat hardware racks. It's all about the Pentiums, baby.

Posted by mbowen at 03:53 PM | TrackBack

Rogue Titty Virus

Posted by mbowen at 11:05 AM | TrackBack

February 09, 2004


Posted by mbowen at 05:36 PM | TrackBack

We're [All] Number One

Any day now, for people who are watching such things closely, you will be able to note that the number one film at the box office, the number one song on the pop charts, and the number one something else in popular culture is black.

Barbershop 2 is the movie and Beyonce is the woman.

This weekend in Los Angeles, the NBA All Star Game is happening, and since the Grammy's just completed, every black star in America is somewhere in the 310 getting, or preparing to get, their groove on. I think this is just a marvelous thing and maybe I should try to get myself invited to a party. I know just the man to call.

I'd imagine that a bunch of pro ballers just back from Hawaii are making a stop in town too. The black radio stations are off the hook with excitement. I listened to Big Boy's show this morning, bored with NPR on my long drive to San Diego.

The world will little note nor long remember this day, most certainly because there are so many more of them to come. I don't get that excited about Pop Culture, being the crusty old jazz snob that I am, but I'm happy that a lot of people are happy.

Now the really important question: Is George Clinton just too damned old or what?

Posted by mbowen at 05:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 08, 2004

What Southerners Know

What southerners know about politics is that it's all dirty. They suffer no illusions about it being anything other than a dog eat dog lesson in graft and corruption. That's why they vote for southerners. It's their dirt.

Beyond all that, I have a great affection for the South, primarily because of how southern competence manifests itself in the attitude of its people. The South knows that it's behind the times and so it has this permanent identity crisis. Living in the south begins with humiliation and misunderstanding which is never quite overcome. The way you prove yourself begins 'I might not know much but I do know this..' Or 'You can't be too sure about many things in the world, but my Daddy always told me...' Southerners make sure they know a thing or two about something and present themselves like they don't know jack about jack. Then the trump you when you least expect it. That victory against the odds becomes the story that you tell your boy, so he knows one thing.

The attitude of underachievement of the South is catching. Nobody catches it faster than new arrivals. Suddenly you realize that the sky is not going to catch fire if you walk out of the house with no shoes or shirt. There's always somewhere you can still get service. You find that everything, everywhere is out in the boonies, relatively speaking. So who cares what you let slip? You face the grinding poverty and it stops you in your tracks, for a while. Before you know it you are finding dignity in places you couldn't before imagine. Or is it that you are imagining dignity in places you couldn't find before? One way or another the dirt gets under your fingernails, the smell of the chemical plant drifts out of your consciousness, the slower talk and accents wend their way into your daily communications and you find other markers of success and failure. You are living another life, a life out of step and out of synch with the America in Miramax films.

One day you find out how far you have gone. You're listening to redneck radio and laughing along and you accidently turn the dial to NPR and Terri Gross. And you hear the accent in her voice. You speak to your mother on the phone and tell her about one of the local streets and you notice show she pronounces it all wrong, like a Northerner. Somebody with a pair of Prada shoes looks at you funny and so you spit on the ground. Then you hear something overbroad said about the drinking habits or education of Southerners and even though you know it's absolutely true, you defend them. Because they're your neighbors and you've come to an understanding.

If you're not from a place, you never quite get the feeling of confidence and depth of shading that location gives natives. There's always some external reference to give you a critical eye. There's always a way you can justify it because you've seen how other places have been. A native Southerner cannot escape, however. They are trapped with calling this place home, it marks them forever. They own that pain. The South is a great place to live, but you'd hate to have to visit there, or be from there. There is no escape from its wicked dominion unless you already have lived the context of someplace else you call home.

In the end, however, the South is reconciled to itself. It knows its faults. And that is what gives its people their geniune honesty, once you get past the spitting. The heat, the air, the smells, the food all slow you down to self-examination. And it is this self that the South needs to know and accept on its own terms. This is the kind of self the South will affirm, and this is the kind of self that John Kerry, or any candidate will have to present to southern folk in order for them to give their nod.

Posted by mbowen at 12:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 07, 2004

The Terrible Towel

DeLong posts three in a row on the growing volume of nays to Bush's fiscal 'policy'. For a mediocre president, he's treading on thin ice and I believe he's about to fall through. I for one will not be throwing him a rope.

We had a good war, and now our home is crumbling.

While GW plays 'Commander in Chief' it's about time to take some potshots at his financial shenanegans. Yeah I think it makes for good politics to raise the character issue regarding his service in the National Guard, but that's not worth much to me. What continues to concern me is what Asian central banks are doing with all of the American securities they are scooping up, and what we are all going to have to pay for them.

You see, here in California, we understand very well what it's like to have the government go broke. It's not a pretty sight. All it takes is one good sized crisis and things are in shambles for years. Firing politicians is not quite enough, because that's what we're supposed to do (if we wern't so lazy and hadn't enacted all that term limit nonsense.) So it is no comfort to throw the bums out, the damned thing has to be fixed while the bums are in office. They'll always be bums but at least they can be frugal bums.

Now I'll be hogtied if the Democrats start behaving like the party of fiscal responsibility. So let me stand up and be one of those who throws in the towel for Bush and throws the book at him to boot.

What we have here is voodoo economics, all over again. Can somebody please start the straight talk? Calling Senator McCain, come in Senator McCain. Oh wait. Let me predict that it will be Greenspan who says the Emporer has no money in the bank. Apres lui, le deluge.

Posted by mbowen at 07:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

..Set Us Back 30 Years

These kinds of words sound familiar. They sound like what blackfolks were saying about themselves about 30 years ago.

We must take time to speak about our own day-to-day psychological injuries. We must consider how the word chink and other racist terms have affected us personally. Bring these discussions to the classroom, to the workplace, to your home and community. That's how the campaign to change the shop's name began; one Asian American woman, Susannah Park, began talking with her friends about it.

I think things are substantially different for Asians in that they have fewer numbers bear a higher 'responsiblity' to be less radical. That is to say, those more thoroughly integrated into the mainstream as their more educated numbers are, there are fewer opportunities to coalesce into organizations which are public and yet distinctly Asian. Asians cannot have radical student unions and Asian business clubs on campus, not because they're not interested, they simply cannot muster the critical mass. Thus they get attached to more mainstream groups with that mass.

Tough sledding for questions of identity. Therefore the twinkie problem.

Posted by mbowen at 09:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 06, 2004

Pissing In Public

Yesterday I was down in Huntington Beach for a patio lunch with some of my business partners. As I was returning to my car in the underground parking structure, I remembered that I forgot to take a leak while I was at the cafe. I know there's no lavatory in the parking structure because I checked when I first parked. I had to go before lunch, now I've got a super sized strawberry lemonade in my system too. The dark corners are looking very inviting.

But I don't do it. Still, I can imagine myself doing it on one condition. I'm a Vietnam vet.

I have, you have, we all have been accosted by the obnoxious Vietnam veteran. There he is looking like Grizzly Adams run over by a trash truck. He's a fricking disgusting piss aroma mess. He turns and stares you in the face and says "What the fuck are you looking at, huh? I was in the Delta, I was. Killing fucking gooks, and where were you?" And we turn away and feel sorry for they guy. Worse yet we give them a bit of respect. We let them get away with it. What's wrong with us?

It seems like there are two things in this country that give you a pass to do fuck all. One is marching with MLK and the other is combat duty in 'Nam. I'm getting really tired of these blank checks. Aren't you?

This blank check idea really smacked me in the head a couple days ago when I was hearing something on the radio about Iraqi loyalists to the Baath Party and how hard it was for them to undo their culture and values. Why? Because a lot of them were working under some fascist version of an Iraqi GI Bill. They served in the friggen Republican Guard in the War against Iran! Who the fuck are you looking at, Yankee American Dog!

And suddenly I got this nausea because as long ago as the Iran Iraq War was (what, two, three wars ago?) The Vietnam War was longer ago still. And yet it's dead center of the game of Gotcha in our own presidential election.

FWIW, I bought into it for John McCain, because at least he talked like someone who'd been in the shit. No political mincy boy rhetoric for him. Of course he was bowled over by the unseen powers that be somewhere dwarfing the miniscule powers of public democratic debate - the powers that annointed GW Bush. And I also bought into it for Max Cleland whom I think is one of the best of the good guys.

But you know what, if John Kerry starts talking about Hanoi, I don't know which sound from my mouth will be louder, the screaming or the gurgling of vomit. Not that I don't respect him as a candidate. Loyal Cobb readers will know that I predicted this (sorta) a long time ago. It's just that I'm really tired of this as a litmus test on patriotism, just as I am sick of marching with King as a litmus test on race.

That was another generation. Let it go.

Posted by mbowen at 11:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Posted by mbowen at 02:30 PM | TrackBack


I'm spending some time this week hooking up my network of friends at Orkut. I hate words that I never hear and only read. What's an orkut anyway? I'm very pleased with it so far, primarily because people are actually responding. I've hooked up about 16 people so far with another 35 in the queue.

Things like Orkut get me all introspective about the nature and frequency of my friendships. I do look at the popular people and wonder what it is that has gone wrong such that I don't have such a circle of people to float around in. My friends are all dispersed and I hardly ever see them, so I would expect that they'd connect over the net. But the emails remain unanswered. Only my network friends respond - the people whose voices and style of walking I don't even know because I've never seen them in person.

Where do I stop? Should I put just the people I think make me look like I have impressive friends? Should I try to be friends with people I think are impressive? Should I invite my family? How about business associates?

There are circles of friends. There are the Brainstorms folks, the blog folks, my boys, the SCAA folks, the Newsavvana folks. Do I really know anyone?

All this just gives me a headache.

Posted by mbowen at 07:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sorry Miss Jackson

I hear that Janet Jackson and her boob have been disinvited to the Grammies. Isn't it the ripper who should be punished and not the ripee? I tell you (sob) it's just an outrage (boo hoo).

Posted by mbowen at 07:24 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 05, 2004

MS Reporting Services - First Look

They didn't make it pretty. They made it work. From what I could get from the demo this moring of Microsoft Reporting Services, Microsoft has a very big hit on its hands. Sell your shares of Crystal right now.

There are a lot of interesting things to know about MSRS. The most important thing to know is that they did a very good job of putting some hot functionality into it so that it's not a joke product. Coming out of the gate, MSRS is capable of handling a good 75% of enterprise reporting requirements. They didn't show much on the security part of this so I might hedge on that a bit, other than that it appears to be a very competent product.

Licensing is 'free'. Basically it rides on top of your SQL Server license, and I'm not sure how they enforce that in code, but there is basically no barriers to entry with regard to getting started. This means a lot of companies are going to start hedging their bets on purchasing products from the competition until their SQL jockeys get their hands on it. And guess what, SQL jockeys are just the intended audience.

Although this has a translation doohickey from Access Reports, there is gobs of lovely SQL behind this piece of work. That means SQL jockeys and hacks will intuitively understand it and crank out many many briefing books and satisfy a lot of needs in short order. That language called SQR just became a useless skill.

It's difficult for me to understand the MS upgrade path with regard to their licensing, so I'm not in a position to determine if it has a reasonable chance of upstaging current implementations of BO, Cognos, Crystal, and Brio. After all, most enterprise reporting projects don't originate from SQL Server. So somebody's going to have to pay to transfer Oracle seat money to grow up the piddly SQL Servers all over the place MS is betting will come into use. But since the learning curve seems deceptively shallow for MSRS, a lot of apps developers may very well jump ship.

The wizards look fairly nice. After all, page layout is generally a no-brainer it's made just for wizards. There are very handy table, list and text objects to drag and drop around the design tool which allows you to preview your reports in realtime. Data is provided through XML / SOAP from .NET so as a data source you navigate to an http url on a local or remote server. It paints everything rather quickly and it isn't very difficult to see how you flip back and forth between the design screen and a QBE thingy very much like the one in Access to select your data. So I gather that this will allow a reasonable individual to develop reports rather quickly and efficiently. (You can use stored procedures too).

The Reporting Stack has 4 services that sit on top of SQL Server only Repository. Rendering, Security, Data Processing, & Delivery. By sitting on top of SQL Server, it's going to have a very strong management layer built in. From what I can tell, you can manage Dev, QA and Production servers from one console and do migrations back and forth automatically.

More Later...

Posted by mbowen at 04:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Free Serfs

DeLong posits:

In the first, you are a free and independent peasant living in a village. Your field is your own. Your crops are you own. After working, you huddle before the fire in your peasant hut until you fall asleep. A smallpox epidemic comes. You, your spouse and your children all die.

In the second, you are a peasant living in a village. Once a year a thug with a spear--Sir Pierre de Bois-Guilbert, say--comes and takes 10% of your crop. He uses his takings to live well in the castle up on the hill. He also employs a troubadour who comes and entertains the peasants nightly in the village square, singing, juggling, and telling stories. He also employs chirurgeons who undertake research into the balance of the four humours. One day, the chirurgeons come with their knives: they cut the arms of you and your family, and insert some cowpox-infested tissue. When the smallpox epidemic comes, you and your family (and the other families in the village) survive.

In which situation are you "freer"? Do you really care whether you are "freer"?

I'd complicate this a little by saying there are both kinds of serf living at the same time, each under both circumstances. Peasant A keeps sticking his tongue out at Peasant B saying that the troubadors are corrpting influences and that the chirurgeons don't respond to supply and demand. Peasant B figures out that he can live longer and now in eternal gratitude to Lord Bois-Guilbert, figures that if he can live 10 years longer at 10% crop reduction that he can live 20 years longer with 20%.

Posted by mbowen at 06:45 AM | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

My Yahoo RSS Feeds

It's way cool. Try it.

Posted by mbowen at 06:04 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Q & DS9: Keys to Star Trek

There's some interesting back and forth about the political economies of the Star Trek galaxy over at Matthew Yglesias, Pandagon and TheCorner.

What nobody has mentioned is what the Q represented. These absolute masters of the galaxy became bored with just about everything. They alone had the power to defeat the Borg and Species 8475. They regard the conflict between the Federation and their enemies as an amusing curiousity.

The personnage of Q itself posed philosophical questions of various starship captains that involved some questions of morality, but Q's meddling was never quite clumsy or malicious. Q could be seen as a philosopher-king bored with his empire. So the Q become responsible for introducing the Federation and humanity to the Borg. The entrance of the Borg coincided with the exit of Q.

Unlike previous master races, the Q were never interested in zoological study of humans or other species. So in all of Star Trek, it is presumed that the ultimate of power doesn't corrupt, but makes one irrelevant. Thus it is not power and economy that are at the center of the Star Trek dialectic.

What is at the center? It's always been race wars in space. The Federation, more than anything were assimilationist. They were essentially a populalist pluralism overseen by a military tribunal. The primary raison d'etre for the Federation was to slowly assimilate species into its multicultural interplanetary stew and beat off any other race of creatures more bellicose than itself in this quest. Very American. Going back to TOS, much was made, though people forget it, of a black female officer on the bridge (Uhura), of an Asian pilot (Sulu) and a Russian whatever Chekov was.

I think this becomes most clear in the DS9 series which more than any other put the conflicts not only of the human centered Federation in relief but that of the Bejorans who were clearly the Jews of space. The Federation represented the struggle of diplomacy at the edges of known space, and so the existence of the Wormhole put them at that very boundary and showed them struggling with their values even more.

DS9 continued and detailed the internal struggles of their characters issues with self-realization. I think DS9 lost a lot of the bumpy-faced kid aspects of the cowboy in space attraction of Star Trek in this evolution of diplomacy.

OK I'm going to shut up now, I'm starting to scare myself.

Posted by mbowen at 05:13 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Lady.jpgLKS writes over at VisionCircle an un-romantic blurb on The Washingtonians, a visual retrospective of the Talented Tenth of 40s Washington DC. It's very difficult for me to resist the sentiment and romance associated with these pictures. In some ways, they remind me of the power of the Cosby Show.

The first time I saw the Cosby Show, it knocked me over. It was the very first television show that showed blackfolks that acted like my parents. Granted, my folks took the routes of social activism rather than the lucrative professional careers they could have certainly achieved, but the scene was right on target. Now that I think of it, I have yet to see (although I didn't watch 227) any portrait of black families on television that gives appropriate weight to Christianity's role in much of African America's lives. At any rate there was no 'lawd a mercy' in the Cosby household, as there was none in mine.

For better or worse, because of the Cosby Show, I began to take television specifically, and cultural production generally much more seriously as a force in American life. I submitted to the power of images and mass media. Now I see that it was me, such things cannot be sustained. They are romantic, and it is the emotional power of such images that the entertainment business is attracted to. This is directly in conflict with television & pop culture as an educational and redemptive medium. Coming from Hollywood, it's either or. Nevertheless in exemplifying the archtype of the high bourgie family, something of those values leach out. If only the ways and means show up, it can be uplifting. Uplifting and yet irresponsible.

It is that irresponsible uplift that I get in viewing these old photographs from the Scurlock collection. My own mother has a photo almost exactly like the one above, and were we to lighten the skin a couple shades and lengthen the hair, that woman would look just like my mother. These young girls remind me of my very own daughters. dancers.jpg
The Talented Tenth, from which I consider myself an expatriot member is somewhat ineffective these days because of the success of integration. African America is a diaspora, and the core worlds, such as Howard University, while still respected do not dominate our intellectual and cultural center as they once did. Scholarships from anonymous corporations are more lucrative than those sponsored by the Links. Sad but true, some of the dysfunction of African America comes from the inability of many Old School institutions to keep track and mentor over the most significant programs of uplift. Racial uplift has been effectively upstaged by general integration. That's all and good, but the romance has rather died off.

It's very important to distinguish between the romance of uplift and the reality of economics and social science. Reviewing Skip Gates' ambling journeys on PBS this black history month, I am convinced that he's struck with a heavy dose of romance about what can be done in that old spirit of the Talented Tenth and the Civil Rights Movement. In that, I believe that he's making a crucial mistake and his airplay, mildly provocative as it may be, raises improper questions about the state of African America.

Distinguish between Romance and Reason.

Posted by mbowen at 11:29 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ahh Hindsight

This final paragraph of David Warren's replaces one year of hot bloviation for the pseudo-pundits and Bush bashers of the blogosphere. Thank you Mr Warren.

Unnoticed to the gliberal media in North America, Mr. Kay's reports have cleared the Bush administration of the charge of "sexing up" threat assessments in the same way Lord Hutton's inquiry into the suicide of David Kelly have cleared Tony Blair. It is clear as day after both inquiries, that the respective governments acted sincerely upon intelligence assessments that were as disturbing as they were wrong. Moreover, they could only be proved wrong because of the invasion of Iraq. Had that not taken place, Mr. Kay's massive search for the truth, under every discoverable desk and rock, would have been impossible.

What was 'sexed up'? Iraq itself, and nobody on the planet knew how much until we put troops on the ground. After more than a decade, a geopolitical mystery has been resolved. Were we to leave it to UN inspectors alone, we would still be in the dark.

Posted by mbowen at 07:38 AM | TrackBack

February 03, 2004

Top Names


MARY 2.629 2.629 1
PATRICIA 1.073 3.702 2
LINDA 1.035 4.736 3
BARBARA 0.980 5.716 4
ELIZABETH 0.937 6.653 5
JENNIFER 0.932 7.586 6
MARIA 0.828 8.414 7
SUSAN 0.794 9.209 8
MARGARET 0.768 9.976 9
DOROTHY 0.727 10.703 10
LISA 0.704 11.407 11
NANCY 0.669 12.075 12
KAREN 0.667 12.742 13
BETTY 0.666 13.408 14
HELEN 0.663 14.071 15
SANDRA 0.629 14.700 16
DONNA 0.583 15.282 17
CAROL 0.565 15.848 18
RUTH 0.562 16.410 19
SHARON 0.522 16.932 20
MICHELLE 0.519 17.451 21
LAURA 0.510 17.961 22
SARAH 0.508 18.469 23
KIMBERLY 0.504 18.973 24
DEBORAH 0.494 19.467 25

Source US Census 2000


JAMES 3.318 3.318 1
JOHN 3.271 6.589 2
ROBERT 3.143 9.732 3
MICHAEL 2.629 12.361 4
WILLIAM 2.451 14.812 5
DAVID 2.363 17.176 6
RICHARD 1.703 18.878 7
CHARLES 1.523 20.401 8
JOSEPH 1.404 21.805 9
THOMAS 1.380 23.185 10
CHRISTOPHER 1.035 24.220 11
DANIEL 0.974 25.194 12
PAUL 0.948 26.142 13
MARK 0.938 27.081 14
DONALD 0.931 28.012 15
GEORGE 0.927 28.939 16
KENNETH 0.826 29.766 17
STEVEN 0.780 30.546 18
EDWARD 0.779 31.325 19
BRIAN 0.736 32.061 20
RONALD 0.725 32.787 21
ANTHONY 0.721 33.508 22
KEVIN 0.671 34.179 23
JASON 0.660 34.839 24
MATTHEW 0.657 35.496 25

Last Names
SMITH 1.006 1.006 1
JOHNSON 0.810 1.816 2
WILLIAMS 0.699 2.515 3
JONES 0.621 3.136 4
BROWN 0.621 3.757 5
DAVIS 0.480 4.237 6
MILLER 0.424 4.660 7
WILSON 0.339 5.000 8
MOORE 0.312 5.312 9
TAYLOR 0.311 5.623 10
ANDERSON 0.311 5.934 11
THOMAS 0.311 6.245 12
JACKSON 0.310 6.554 13
WHITE 0.279 6.834 14
HARRIS 0.275 7.109 15
MARTIN 0.273 7.382 16
THOMPSON 0.269 7.651 17
GARCIA 0.254 7.905 18
MARTINEZ 0.234 8.140 19
ROBINSON 0.233 8.372 20
CLARK 0.231 8.603 21
RODRIGUEZ 0.229 8.832 22
LEWIS 0.226 9.058 23
LEE 0.220 9.278 24
WALKER 0.219 9.497 25

Posted by mbowen at 02:28 PM | TrackBack

The Blog That Ate The World

I just had a nightmarish vision. It was that everyone had a blog and they were talking about their own lives on and on forever. Anything that happened anywhere would be blogged, newspaper reported, guerilla videoed and otherwise mic'd for posterity.

Then some loudmouth goober says:

Every last one of you. You're all latte-sipping, iMac-using, suburban-living tertiary-industry-working WASPs who offer absolutely no new insights on anything whatsoever apart from maybe one specialist field if we're lucky. Most of you think that you're writing original content and that you're making a contribution by licensing your spewings under Creative Commons "Some Rights Reserved" licences, just because it's the hip thing to do. You think you know all there is to say about blogging because you understand the concept of HTML and CSS, but the horrible truth is that 40% of you are all using the same shitty default layout. Then you take pictures of yourselves looking pensive or making vague allusions to mythology.

And I remember that blogs will never eat the world and that the circle jerk of bloggers are a minority within a fraction of a percent of the planet's population. We have less influence and media sway than Janet Jackson's right boob.


Posted by mbowen at 12:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


I think Michel Foucault said something relatively profound about the nature of families and sex that had something to do with mobility. Nobody really finds anything close to the ideal mate because the ideal mate is always far away. You have sex with 50 people during your single years? Do the math, it's just a tiny fraction of the number of people you know, few of which are really good for your. But I interpret. If you're single, or remember the desparation, you know what I'm talking about. Too much parsing, too little soul satisfaction. The wider you cast your net, the weirder the fish you dredge up.

This last observation about weird fish (and often smelly boots) is the problem I've had with Friendster. I expect the same thing to be replicated at Orkut, but I expect Orkut to scale. That means once there's ten million people in it, I'll find 10 good friends that I couldn't find on my own. Maybe.

The good thing about Orkut is that it possesses both kinds of profiles. In fact, if I were trolling for the mother lode of demographic.... Hey that's why Google has been hiring. Damn. And I don't remember any 'we wont share' disclaimers when I signed up.

Oh well.

Posted by mbowen at 10:43 AM | TrackBack

Conquer Mexico

Over at Dean's World there was a battle over how much we hate Mexicans because they take so much of our money away. Or some crap like that. So let's lay it on the table at a different angle.

There are many who believe that if we permanently offer amnesty and pleabargains for illegals (how illegal is illegal immigration, more illegal than marijuana use? thus should we start a War on Immigration?) that we'll be flooded. Canadians don't stampede the border because all they all have nice jobs. Socialism works? OK that's beside the point, Mexico sucks that's why they all come up this way.

So as an economic matter, can American standards of living be eroded so long as Americans are in charge? That is to say if there are, in the closed system of American employment 100 million jobs that require an average of a 11.5th grade education and pay an average of 15 bucks an hour and we drop our guard to the south, what happens? Do we suddenly have 10 million new jobs with a 5th grade education that pay 4 bucks an hour? Are these jobs going wanting in our big cities or are these newly indigent creating entire 3rd world economies on the fringes of society?

It seems to me that if the US public eductional system is demonstrably incable of educating, then we are demanding to be a third world country.

One more deally, which ought to be really scary. A lot of folks gripe about how expatriot workers suck up all the public services because they're paid under the table and don't hold up their end of the tax burden. Isn't that a call for a more efficient and ruthless tax collection regime? After all, somebody has a good idea which industries these tax leeches are working for, no?

Let us assume that there are limits, but until there is some equilibrium, indigent unskilled workers and their upscale expatriot bretheren will continue to press the borders. Assume that give the opportunity of wide open borders, 50 million Mexicans would cross over to work in America. It seems to me that the solution becomes more and more obvious the more people come to America.

We start conquering Mexican territory.

We just push the border a couple hundred miles down, grab up all that cheap real estate, cry havoc and let loose the dogs of McDonalds, KFC, John Ryland Homes, The Irvine Company, Sempra Energy and let's not forget Wal-Mart. They want America? We'll give them more America than they can handle.

I really love this idea. That's why I'll never be elected to public office in California.

Posted by mbowen at 03:49 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

February 02, 2004

Wal-Mart Says Wal-Mart Creates Jobs

According to this study sponsored by Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart creates jobs.

I'm not going get into the economics of the matter. I simply don't believe that the benefit of the many consumers outweighs the discomfort of the few workers. Just please everybody remember that all the leftist haters are saying that higher prices are better for the consumer so long as they pay for high wage jobs. I really can't wait until the shoe is on the other foot. Please God let it happen while I still care.

Posted by mbowen at 09:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Domestic Grumbling

I'm going to drop a few verbs on moving from Mumbai Mumbling to Domestic Grumbling. There hasn't yet been a Congressman to step up for the consulting industry and there are interesting reasons why. I've been thinking about this on and off for a while, but it's just too big to get out in one big bite. Meanwhile, Bob Cringely speaks:

2) "What do you have against those poor Indians, Bob, you racist?" I have nothing against those poor Indians, but neither do I feel that they have an innate right to take over functions that they don't do better than those who they replace. And what makes them poor Indians, anyway? Even Bono would look at the numbers and conclude that India takes in far more dollars from the U.S. than it pays out to buy U.S. goods. I checked back as far as 1986, and found only consistent trade surpluses on India's side of the ledger. The U.S. provides foreign aid to India, not the other way around. The net flow of investment capital has always been from the U.S. and into India. And don't forget the tens of thousands of U.S. workers who are either Indian citizens or of Indian descent who send money back to the old country every month. India has nothing to complain about concerning its financial relationship with the United States.

Posted by mbowen at 06:10 PM | TrackBack

Two Cents on Kobe Bryant

It has never mattered how virtuous a woman may or may not be when she claims to be raped. The state and the people should demand justice.

In the case of Kobe Bryant, there is no question that he will have the best defense that money can buy. Nevertheless, he will face a jury. His attorneys will do their level best to insure that these 'peers' will render judgement in his favor, so knowing all the possible racial arguments ahead of time (duh, even we know what people are going to say and we're not attorneys), there's only so much credit we can give any theories of racist railroading.

As to honor and virtue, what is ironic here is that Bryant has the most to lose. Whether or not he is found guilty, he has already lost his claims to virtue. No matter how dirty her drawers were, he was still trying to get into them. That's a foul that gets you ejected from the game of honor and virtue.

Kobe Bryant superstar, ought to know that there are ways around getting slapped around by garden variety bimbos. I offer him one word: Contracts. If an ordinary Joe with an ordinary 300 bucks can afford an ordinary hooker who has ordinary restraint from running away to the cops, somebody like Kobe should be able to find and afford appropriate concubinage.

Ahh but he's stupid.

The world won't stop spinning if and when Bryant rots in jail, and it will be entertaining to see the look on the victim's father's face if and when the civil judgement is granted. That's an expensive pair of dirty drawers Kobe. But hey, you can afford it. Black America can too. You've done your part to entertain us. Thank you very much. Next!

Posted by mbowen at 06:09 PM | TrackBack

Junior Miss

I have always, from the first moment I read him, admired Gerald Early. His series "Speech & Power" is one of my favorites. It sits between his other book 'Lure and Loathing' and Stephenson's 'Quicksilver' on my second shelf. I've always been one of those people who hopes you come and look at my bookshelves when you come over my house and Early is part of the the 'good china' of my intellectual pursuits.

Early is one of those gents that I would be like, had I not been infatuated with business and computing. A scholar who devours literature and a conservator of American history. There are few men on this planet who can so aptly describe the sweet science of boxing as does Gerald Early. I always defer to the righteous academics who do their homework. bell hooks was the first who gave me the inkling about the volume of work required to be a competent critic of African American life. So it comes as no surprise that Early, one of those who puts in work, has so little regard for Debra Dickerson's latest opus.

But he goes one step further:

With the publication of ''The End of Blackness,'' a book not only about white racism but about black people's response to it, Debra J. Dickerson joins a growing and varied class of black public intellectuals that includes people like John McWhorter, Bell Hooks, Michael Eric Dyson, Patricia Williams, Henry Louis Gates, Shelby Steele, Thulani Davis, Stanley Crouch, Greg Tate, Ellis Cose and Brent Staples.

In this, he sets up the pins and then takes scholarly aim with his bowling ball. In the end, this work, and those like it are struck down with precision.

The problem is that the author does not know enough, has not researched enough, to write an incisive book on African-American life or American racism. If one listens to a lot of black talk radio or has some bull sessions with other blacks, nearly every gripe and observation in ''The End of Blackness'' will be familiar. One does not write a book like this. One gets over it. That is why good writers keep journals.

I kept the whole PDF of this review because I think it's important to defeat the Fungibles and that Dickerson is trying to ride a fast track to become one. Not that there is anything untoward in this ambition, but that there is something very important about it which necessitates a deeper level of comittment. Why should the world listen to Dickerson when Early is around? Download file

She had a hard row to hoe coming into this genre, and I find it gratifying that Early is on my side in this. If you're going to give advice, do some deep thinking first.

Come to think of it, that may be one, two, three strikes for Dickerson. Better luck next year.

Posted by mbowen at 05:21 PM | TrackBack

Splitting the Difference

My new pal James Spencer, who is running for the State Senate in the 25th District, told me something that was simple and profound the other day. And I think it's something we may see that has a great deal of power as the Old School Republicans gain momentum.

Arnold's a Republican, but his wife is a Democrat. Richard Riordan is a Republican, but his wife is a Democrat. It just so happens that James, the man we were talking to about Nate Holden, and I are also Republicans with Democrat wives.

A politically divided household stands just fine. It allows families to punish and reward both parties on the issues, and it's the way we're going.

Posted by mbowen at 10:42 AM | TrackBack

Just One

Posted by mbowen at 09:33 AM | TrackBack

February 01, 2004

The Freedom of Slaves

I swear to god that if I, in my entire career ever said anything purposefully or otherwise which was in agreement with one Paul Craig Roberts, I hereby disclaim it, put on my hairshirt and flog myself about the loins with steel nunchucks for 40 days and nights.

Holy shit, what an asshat.

With a bit of trepidation, I poked around the website that published this obscenity whose logo I found vaguely familiar. I thought to myself, I've seen this kangaroo looking thing before, which is why I wasn't sure if I might have referenced him in the positive. Then I see that it's Peter Brimelow. OK now I understand whic cadre of heels this one slimed forth from. Whew. That was close. I know I've never has any positive association with that outfit; the loins are safe from self-flaggelation.

Stay tuned for storms of outrage.
{Volokh, DeLong}

Posted by mbowen at 12:25 PM | TrackBack

Miserable Failure Project

Oh this is a good one for the partisan bitchfest. The conspiracy to Google Bomb Hillary Clinton and other various Democrat knuckheads to the words 'Miserable Failure'.

It's all a part of the Miserable Failure Project I found out about today over at Aaron's Rantblog. Very clever. I happen to think that Dick Gephardt is the most miserable failure, and bashing Hillary does nothing for me.

Posted by mbowen at 11:36 AM | TrackBack

Office #53

I just got my sample ballot in the mail the other day. Guess who's up for election as a judge? Zeke Zeidler, a good friend of mine from college.

I'm really glad to see that he has succeeded. He was president of the student body and presided over a great deal of controversy back in the days before multiculturalism. He's a fairminded guy and absolutely addicted to politics. I'd sure like to run into him some day and talk about old times.

If he's on your ballot, give him the nod. He's one of the good guys. So vote for Daniel Zeke Zeidler for Superior Court Judgeship - Office No. 53

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

Iran Devolving

Iran has taken a turn for the worse. Today, a full third of the parliament resigned in protest of the Islamic Council's disqualification of all the liberal candidates in the upcoming election. It boggles the mind that such things would come to pass in Iran, a country much misunderstood and maligned by Americans. Yet stereotypical views of mad islamists today have more than a taint of truth.

In a letter read aloud in the 290-seat Majlis, or parliament, liberal lawmaker Rajab Ali Mazrouie said that the result of elections held under restrictions imposed by the hard-liners would be a foregone conclusion.

``An election whose result is clear beforehand is a treason to the rights and ideals of the nation,'' the lawmaker told some 200 legislators attending Sunday's session.

Posted by mbowen at 10:27 AM | TrackBack