September 30, 2004

National Geographic

I've got a clever idea that might make me rot in Gehenna. Every time I hear stories about Border Patrol agents playing catch and release with the Southern Millions, the same idea comes into my head. Tag 'em. Why not just insert a little chip into them and watch their migrating patterns?

The triple fence at Tijuana is pretty much impregnable for rookie trekkers. Only the experienced body traffickers know how to get through. These coyotes are making 500-800 dollars a head with no guarantees. Man that's a hot cash business. But who knows who is moving whom and where? Well, that's a job for GPS implants and Star Wars software. I mean tracking a million objects can't be that difficult can it?

Did I say 'objects'? Am I dehumanizing? Oopsie. I have all kinds of ideas about what we should do. But first we ought to determine what we can do.

Aside from that opportunity, I have a difficult time believing that no BP agents haven't flipped a coyote for the bucks. There's a huge dislocation here and that means lots of money, danger and risk. It's an environment certain to generate unscrupulous profits and bureacratic inefficiencies. Interesting work for the right guy. I think this is going to be the scandal of the future. It's probably happening right now and we're just not getting political wind of it - like drug confiscation seizures. And the Southern Millions have no legal representation nor recourse I bet. All that to live in Arizona. Tsk.

Posted by mbowen at 08:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Maya Who?

It turns out that Maya Keyes, if photos are to be believed is a hottie for girls. Her dad is that famous Republican always a candidate never an officeholder Alan Keyes. So what? Exactly. I will note this however, it's a lot easier to be against the evils of abortion when you know your daughter can't get pregnant.

I saw that episode of 'Rescue Me', and I understand.

Posted by mbowen at 04:20 PM | TrackBack

Fishbone, Monk & Mingus

Back in the day, while I was still Talented Tenth but not yet through the more radical phases of Black Mental Liberation, I used to wonder what kind of white man I would resemble. In every black man's vocab is found 'cool white boy', although these days on XBox Live I more often hear 'white niggas'. Be that as it may, at one point or another I believe all of us think about trading skins.

This is different from trading places, it's just the whole what would I look like if I was white and still the same person. Naturally, one would be a 'cool white boy'. So after some time engaging in this fantasy I finally figured out the type I would want to look like, if I had the reverse Watermelon Man power. It turned out to be Eddie Rabbit. I thought about this yesterday upon seeing a picture of Sir Richard Branson because he has that same kind of look, at least to me. The other person who has it is Chuck Norris. Redford has it now but he had always been just too pretty. So there you have it. I would have a kind of redheaded, blue-eyed weatherbeaten cowboy look and very likely to be wearing facial hair.

Since I haven't thought about this for a long time, over 20 years in fact, it surprised me when I went to the Charlie Hunter & Bad Plus concert to see how the fashion has changed from the 1980 version of Eddie Rabbit. See the house was packed, but there were only 3 black heads in the room - one of them Hunter's drummer. The rest of the young hipsters have a look I now know but not well enough to describe in their own argot. Yet it reminded me of how I often felt way back in the day at Fishbone concerts.

Fishbone is the black rock & roll band. If you don't know who they are, I would say that your understanding of modern rock is severely crippled, especially if you think the Red Hot Chili Peppers have any talent. Fishbone and the Peppers were the hottest bands in LA back in '84. Both have lasted to this day, one in the sun of popularity the other in shadow. If Fishbone has a flaw it is that they never had a song that girls would like to dance to. Or put another way, back in the days when there was Wendy O Williams and everybody else, there weren't many chicks who'd accompany you to the mosh at a Fishbone concert. A black girl? Perish the thought. There were maybe 5 out of 3000, three were with the band, one didn't know where she was and I married the fifth.

Where is Fishbone today? I have no idea. Fish was one of the greatest rock drummers ever. But the point is that they were out there in territory that aint mainstream, nor even mainstream black.

To the extent that one's identity comes from this modern sense of affiliation and fan loyalty, not to mention inspiration, it has always been somewhat disconcerting to me that we black rockers were dipped in the buttermilk. It wasn't that we minded our company, but that we were alienated from our homes and homeboys. Then again, isn't that what much music is all about? Fishbone was all about too much energy for cool. They weren't smooth. They were happy rage.

Being a part of the Fishbone world put me on the edge, if not the outs with the Talented Tenth. And my love for them, as well as for the angular crankiness of Monk and Mingus is part of the reasons I consider myself on the progressive edge of the previously proud group formerly known as the Talented Tenth.

Pops is about to put together a seminar on Monk and Mingus. So he asked me to whip him up a DVD full of mp3s. I have just shy of seven hours of recordings. I also have the 'Straight No Chaser' video, and I swear it's still a marvel to watch Monk play 'Just a Gigolo' solo.

If alienation and rebellion are part and parcel of brilliance, then it means a great deal for the individual. And yet what is a concert but a gathering of individuals who are different from the world in the same way? One cannot help but look around to see who else shares the love. We can all buy the same T-shirt, but then we spread out and disappear into the interstices of modern life.

No conclusion...

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September 29, 2004

Black Jews

Today is Sukkot, I think.

I listened at length to an interesting inside story about a Jewish cat who found the equivalent of a Jewish Almanac which had references dating back about 350 years. He is using it to help wayward Jews find their way back to knowing Sukkot and other holidays as more than just dates on a calendar.

It immediately occured to me, as such parallels do, that 350 years is the kind of authenticity we modern Americans drool over. So it comes as no surprise that this cat made it to NPR's radio show. But it didn't escape my notice, as he began describing the feeling of connectedness that this newfound old knowledge game him, that it sounds precisely like what blackfolks are often found wanting. I know, having represented, how cavalierly some folks have dismissed Kwanzaa as a wannabe Jewish holiday. I take their point, but only so far.

As the Jewish cat rambled on about the significance of doing things just like the enslaved Isrealites, my tolerance hit a wall. Nobody really wants to be an Isrealite slave. Reenactments are so bourgie, and modern. What we want is the feeling of home and belonging. Everybody wants that, and especially wayward Jews and American blacks. But can anyone really trace their bloodline back to the house of Levi? That's very dubious for the overwhelming majority. What Jews have, after all is said and done, is their faith. Faith is learned. Those who do, get. So as you can imagine, I began to become slightly peeved at this cat whose newfound pride had him representing the Israelites, kinda like Whitney Houston at the Slave Castles.

So what have Jews got that blacks don't? It's a dumb comparison that everyone keeps doing. It's the slavery thing, it's the political thing. There is supposed to be the special bond that Jesse Jackson famously unmade for us way back when the Rainbow Coalition was still something of a good idea. But the fact is that Jews have nothing blacks don't, culturally speaking, because whatever Jews can get by faith, blacks can too. Just join your local synagogue.

Huh? What?

There's something slightly unbelievable about a 40 year old man receiving First Communion in the Catholic Church, but there is nothing unserious about it. I don't see why it is that Evangelical Christians should get all those who 'get it' later in life. Furthermore, there are so many different degrees and sects of Judaism, there must certainly be one ready for new converts. Considering how many slacking Modern, Reformists for Jesus there are (if you believe the Lubavichers) it's a wonder that more folks don't take to Judaism. Well, I can see why certain whitefolks might think they have something to lose, but for blackfolks that might not apply.

As for me, I'm rather devout to the church of American Black History, so I've always looked at our acceptance of our Africanness not so much as a necessary recovery but as a global cosmopolitanism. There was a time when I considered myself a New World African, never so much as when I was dating an Afro-European within a year of my first trip to Europe. It was a Diaspora thing and she did a lively business in Kente and Mud Cloth. But that was then. The point is that I'm hardly looking for that ineffable something that Jews supposedly have 'over' us putatively 'rootless' blackfolks. I know my family tree back 7 generations. That kind of kills a lot of longing for me - and I think the more one knows one's family the more ideological Black Nationalism suffers, but I digress.

For those who need a groove and something a bit more historically weighty than, the Jewish faith should be wide open. So consider it.

Posted by mbowen at 09:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

More Dirt on DeLay

I could almost be sympathetic to people who call us Repugnicans after hearing today's interview with the new biography of Tom DeLay. On Fresh Air, author Lou Dubose lays it flat. DeLay is an ugly character whose strongarm tactics have materially degraded the democratic function of Congress.

It's worth noting loudly that a cowering, bootlicking House Ethics Committee is partially responsible for letting DeLay get away with parliamentary murder. It is also worth noting that Newt Gingrich, whom I've had plenty time to re-evaluate much to the positive, got snookered by DeLay. Had Gingrich's man won against DeLay, we'd have a more robust Congress today. Ironically, it was Gingrich's insistence on Committee Chair term limits that paved the road for money to do things in Washington pretty much the way it does things in Las Vegas.

I am somwhat astonished at the revelations but not completely surprised. I've been wondering where all the backbone of Congress has gone in these post-911 days. Now I'm starting to question with a jaundiced eye, rather than simply a skeptical one, the non-activities of the Congress. I'll put it this way; if a character like Kerry is what you get after n-terms we ought to know that something is radically wrong. The effect of the polarization is clear and the blame falls on the party leadership. Our Congress seems to have lost its capacity for rational debate, and the freshman Republicans beholden to DeLay have served as an example of dogs showing their bellies. So the next time I hear somebody use the phrase 'activist judge' I'm throwing a pie.

This opens a new chapter for me with regard to my views of Republican politics. I was quite correct to take Armey's side before, but with the news of the new Indian Gaming scandal with Abramoff and Scanlon, I'm more determined than ever to see this ass put down.

I don't know if he's got his trackback working, but I suspect that Richard Morrison is about to get launched. I hope so anyway.

Posted by mbowen at 08:26 PM | TrackBack

More Work Talk

After, or during a long day slaving over hot algorithms and queries, the last thing I want to blog about is work. In fact, I've probably talked more about crap I have absolutely no clue about than things that I'm probably world class in, which is OLAP and data warehousing.

These days I'm getting a little fed up with having this blog be of no use in spreading the word and working with work. Since my mind is made up about this upcoming election and I really don't think that people who are undecided should even bother, I'm not going to take up much more space on that tip until after the election. Plus P6 and I get to kiss and make up. So starting today I'm going to start blogging about OLAP and DW, which may be a very uncompelling subject, but...

But I have work for people who are interested in this very cool field and you all need to be aware that I have a little bit of moving and shaking ability. My little business, Metro Decisions is ready willing and able to start responding to the interest in the field, and quite frankly I am really tired of telling the recruiters and agents that call me every week: "Sorry, I'm booked and I don't know anybody who is available to work now."

If you're interested. Start talking. Right here. Right now. There's lucrative work sitting undone and several industries which are untouched by some truly cool technology that I'm trying to bring. My other site, can use a little assistance so I'm goosing it here. You can see all of the jobs referrals that I get. I will continue to post them there and perhaps refer to them here. This will make Cobb a bit more boring, but it can lead to economic happiness.

By the way, I'm also getting into more traditional web development stuff as well, so if you're ready to talk that, let's do it.

Posted by mbowen at 11:44 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Immigration Reconsidered

It has been a while since I've thought about Victor Davis Hanson, but the time is rolling around. Immigration is likely to be the next thing I start thinking about. My mind is made up about the continuing struggle in Iraq, so as prompted by Michael Savage yesterday, I think I'll reconsider immigration.

There have been a million Mexicans per year entering this country. That's an astounding number. We've got to reconcile our laws and policy with our economy, and we've got to make Mexico accoutable.

Posted by mbowen at 09:27 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Cool Kids Games

I've just discovered a blogger out of Iowa who has some pretty cool kids games posted up on his blog. Check them out. I especially like 'Muscle Man'.

Bring an over-sized sweatshirt for each team. Also bring about 10-15 small balloons for every 4 kids in your group. Have each team choose a guy representative or use leaders, and ask them to put on the sweatshirt. The object is to make a “muscle man” by blowing up, tying and stuffing as many balloons into the shirt of the guy until he is as “muscular” as possible. Give them about 2 minutes. Determine the winner by a panel of judges. The first guy to break all his balloons by himself is also declared a winner.

When I become 'Uncle Mike', my all time winner at birthday parties is the Crusty Crab Race. The key is crabwalking. Get a kid to sit on the floor with their feet in front of them, knees bent, and their palms flat on the floor. Then they lift themselves up leaving their arms straight and pushing their hips up. This is the basic crab position. Now crawl. Try forwards and backwards. Try sideways. If they're really good, try elephant crabbing where one side is in the air at once instead of corners. You can do sprints, laps and relays. Hands get nice and dirty. Kids love it.

Posted by mbowen at 08:58 AM | TrackBack


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September 28, 2004

I Can See My House From Here

What could possibly be cooler than Terraserver? This: Just in case you wondered, this is Redondo Beach, where I chill at the crib.

Posted by mbowen at 06:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Home Network

I'm about to build out a few more pieces of my home network and I'd like to discuss it here generally with folks. Software, hardware, networks. What do you have? What do you like? What's next for your setup?

For me, I've always wanted to build an entire batcave at my place. I just finished installing two new P3-800 Dells that I got used for 145 bucks a pop. They're running wireless (G) off a WAP secured Linksys router which is inside a wired router which is inside Adelphia cable modem.

I'm running an XBox and 2 other servers, both Win2k Server. Plus my pride and joy, a black 3Ghz Shuttle running XP Pro SP2 with no problems. My laptop is on life support but I was just about to replace it with a new Think Pad T42.

Next I want to get a nice Linux box or two. I'm likely to get another cheap Dell P3, or upgrade one of my Win2K boxes to a two way Dell Precision and use that. I've played around with Red Hat most of the time, but now there's this new Fedora thing. I've got a set of Mandrake disks lying around - I got them with the Shuttle. What's Gentoo? I've got an image of the free Solaris as well.

My Linux box is strictly for hobby and fun - to have all the fun tools and whatnot. When I need a real one, for a development environment, I'll know which brand to get. I have yet to be impressed with any Linux desktop, but I'll tell you what. If there's one that can use a Radeon board and play DVDs in the background with translucent windows on top, I'll definitely consider that. Something with customizeable themes that I could run a couple different monitors on - that would be for me.

Also, is there any reason in the world for me to play with OSX or is this strictly a Mac fetish?

Posted by mbowen at 01:15 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

No I Didn't Feel It

Things are perfectly normal and boring in LA. I didn't feel the earthquake.

Posted by mbowen at 10:43 AM | TrackBack

Defiance Deferred

I've been thinking about what I might do if I were kidnapped and prepared for beheading.

For the longest time, predating this crisis, I was confident that I would be defiant. I would find some clever way of disguising my voice and dropping hints that I would be glad to be sacrificed for the cause of my captors. In fact, the model of the voice I would use would be that of Robert Townsend's Stepin Fetchit from the film 'Hollywood Shuffle'. Every American would instantly know that I was acting, although my captors would not.

My presumption was "Never get caught." Of course I would abandon all hope if I did, and my only hope would be that I was wearing a cellphone that could be traced. Bomb this location would be my call. I'd want Americans to take out the bastards who took me out. But no more.

Now I am so contemptuous that I wouldn't be caught in the same hemisphere as those rogues in their rogue nations. I don't want to sacrifice jack. I believe there are things called 'standoff weapons'. That's what I want to do, stand off to the side and lob shells.

I find myself, in recognition of the exaggerated cesspool American reporters claim Iraq to be, increasingly irritated at those elements who have demonstrated their ability to wreak havoc. It is part of my growing awareness of our interconnectedness as humans. I was thinking yesterday, in light of some of the fabulous opportunities I have been offered lately, exactly what it is that makes me worth now at the age of 43 that I was lacking 5 years ago. It is that sense of the preciousness of human interrelations. I am loathe to let people get away from me unrecognized. We all need each other, and I do feel this profoundly. Just as profoundly however is the understanding of the social contract which undergirds this basic need. Our disposition to each other is based upon a very loose trust, one which is rarely verified, that we will do each other no harm. Breaking that social contract can be unforgiveable.

What is astounding is that whole tribes of people can behave so reprehensibly that destruction of the social contract is an everyday occurrance. I am told that kidnapping of Iraqis by Iraqis is so commonplace that they take joy that Europeans and Americans are suffering likewise. I hardly believe half what I am told of Iraq, but it is difficult to explain the continuing chaos could persist and deepen without the moral capitulation of the majority of the nation's men. There is, of course, the important proviso that the Iraqi Army has been scattered to the four winds and perhaps it takes a lot more work to make in the Sunni Triangle what has been maintained in Kurish Mosul. But the capitulation is undeniable.

I don't want to be anywhere near there. My life is not for sacrifice, although I certainly understand and respect those who soldier in my stead. I am one of those who cannot stomach the destruction of society, I rage at the rip of the social fabric. I would overkill.

Today I am despondant that our journalists are mostly of my type. And I find it difficult to believe that their organizations are capable of putting them where those of us who take democracy seriously would need them to be. I want a War Channel, all battlefield coverage all the time. I want to see from Iraq what I see on 'Cops' and 'Americas Wildest Police Chases'. I want cameras and eyeballs on the ground watching these 'insurgents' ply their brutal trade. I want a soldier's eye view of what it's like to stand post in New Barbaria. I want to see the Humvee chase of the mad mullahs. But we won't see that, because most American journalists are bourgie like me. Perhaps like me they used to be ready for sacrifice, but how will we ever know? They just talk about car bombings. They're scared to cover them.

Iraq has been dark for a long time. I always assume that the fog of war is somewhat impenetrable. We know we've won. We know there's chaos. We know our own body counts. What some Americans don't know, or refuse to acknowledge, is how we are showing ourselves to be a great country. How our president has forced some of us to sacrifice for the greater order of Iraq - to give them the opportunity to repair their social fabric. It's going to take a long time for them to organize and muster their courage and beat down their own barbarians. But it will inevitably be worth it. Those of us who hold human interrelations sacred understand that implicitly.

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September 27, 2004


I have encountered the Blue Screen of Death.

Please Standby.

Posted by mbowen at 11:04 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 25, 2004

That is That and This is This

Mumbling aloud here.

The predominating theme is too much work, not enough help, not enough time. I need to meet more people like me who can do the kind of work I get offered but cannot possibly do on my schedule. But that woman on whose finger I put five diamonds told me to forget about all that an have another martini. At least I made one good choice.

The house is clean; the boy is with his cousin on his way to Raging Waters with Uncle Deet. We dropped the sisters off at Kids Night at the Y and then immediately headed to the bar at Claim Jumper. The new game I'm going to play is see how many olives I can cadge off the bartender. The less I respect them, the more I'll get. Tonight was a seven. Meanwhile the seared ahi was bomb-like and the shrimp was very nice.

Previously I put together a foundling desk that M10 and the spousal unit rescued from God knows where. A couple L brackets and a nicely bruised thumb later, voila. A desk for the kids' new Dell. As I rant on against the digital divide, I understand that those who are information poor still think they have to purchase from Best Buy, while us penny pinching snots get ours for $145 a pop at Computer Show Dot Com. Nobody needs more thatn 800MHz. Nobody needs more than 6 cylinders. Nobody needs more than 3 bedrooms. Them Joneses is wack, fuck 'em.

It turns out that things are looking up in the music department. Truth be told, Charlie Hunter was eclipsed by The Bad Plus in real life and his 'Friends Unseen' CD wasn't all that hot either. I guess if you don't see him play, it doesn't seem so incredible, but this was also a piss poor recording, muddy as a swamp. Consequently, only the blues tunes sounded good. But Paco de Lucia is delivering on his two CDs in the recently recieved Amazon pack. Right after I publish this badboy, it's off to James Earl Jones' King Lear. Holy smokes it looks captivating. Oh. By the way Modest Mouse' second single is on MTV. I'm so pleased.

I cannot recommend highly enough that you arrive slightly toasted to see 'Shaun of the Dead'. You'll enjoy it that much more, not that you wouldn't but instead of it being merely hilarious, you'll throw up laughing. Maybe it's just me, but everything seems so much funnier if you feel you must stifle vomit. Think '28 Days Later' played completely for laughs. It seems that the Brits have all the wit these days, and yes it's subtly funny. Put it on the level of 'Clerks'.

Did I mention how difficult it is to unzip your jeans after you've slammed your thumb with a hammer? You could piss your pants if you're not careful. You realize of course I'm going to be completely nuts this weekend. I still have friggen work to do. Poorman gets included in a college seminar and I'm wasting time being serious? Ha. From now on, weekends are made for Michelob.

Anyway, I hear King Lear ends bad, but I want to see it anyway. Later.

Posted by mbowen at 10:36 PM | TrackBack

September 24, 2004

The Impluse

"When the world gets too much to carry
And when life becomes to bizarre
And all my friends seem ordinary
As compared to the Rastafar"

-- Bobby Caldwell

You don't understand. I'm a writer. I do other things for fun, but I am most happy when I am turning a phrase.

Before online, I was the guy sitting in the coffee shop or the cafe ignoring everybody around him and scribbling notes on a quadrille pad. When I wasn't writing, I was reading. And I'd be sitting in the middle of a crowd and asking myself what the chances were that speaking to that woman would be more fruitful than reading another stanza of Borges. Like Borges I dreamed a world and lived in that dreamworld.

Nobody wants to sit and listen to me talk. The impulse to share what's on my mind with the person next to me has been completely sublimated and transformed to a complex and subtle level of impenetrable socialization. Furthermore, I'm not interested in what you have to say because you'll be entirely incapable of saying it in a way that would magnetize readers to the page. I'll hear your story out and then make it connect in my nearly infinite reperatoire.

Furthermore, I am an outcast writer. It would be more accurate to say that I am beneath contempt of writers because like the curly blondes that escape the bikini lines of Baywatch babes, I spit this stuff out naturally with an effort which is asymptotic to digestion. Every attention I get from not working hard is a spike in the palms of those who write to be paid. If I never get paid for this verbiage, I will not have failed. I'm not anxious. I'm oblivious to literary criticism; I've only bothered to capitalize in the past two years.

I am reconciled to this. I expect almost nothing. I am satisfied to have the entire blog, the entire online set of works just to remind me of what I've already said. Maybe one day I'll rate an anthropologist, but I don't hope for it. I am a pack rat of ideas. I am a transcriber of transient impressions. I am an archivist of syllogisms. I am a time traveler with earlier and later selves and writing is my time machine.

I'll only have 4 or 5 brilliant ideas in my life. People will get sick of listening to me in due time. But I still think that I'm better than Ethel Mertz.

When life becomes too bizarre, when people are focused on the ridiculous and I don't feel like grabbing their attention on this plane - on the Cobbian, upper middle class doohicky voice - then maybe I'll go back to creative writing. So I was thinking about, and actually jumped into that voice for a hot minute this afternoon before you asked me to discover the joys of cooking. I'm not going to finish it today because my hands are sweaty. I just found out that my two new Dells are on the FedEx truck, plus I have a date at the Whale and Ale tonight. Still, there's novels in there to be written when I get sick of SQL and Perl.

You wanna see some?

When I was a young brainy idiot who had boxes of college recruitment bulk mail in my bedroom, but had already dropped out of college, I started talking the vernacular. I had to in order to fit in, but I already did fit in. These people were, after all, the people I had grown up with. What was different was now I was spending all day with them instead of just playtime hours after school. I was working a place called Fedco - something special in the annals of black LA which nobody seems to be capturing except for me, Wanda Coleman and John Singleton. But I ain't loving them hoes.

The hardest thing about being a brother with a Jheri curl only happened when you opened your mouth and started to speak, that is if you speak out of character for a brother with a Jheri curl. There was a joke about that, that you could hear in the fake British accents of funk stars. Maybe you remember Rockwell. Maybe showers remind him of Psycho too much. He was 5 years late on the joke - we all knew Rick James could speak proper. Shit, he could mack like Teddy Pendergrass if he wanted. Like most black men in 1979, it was easier for me to surf the social waves in silence than to speak and rip perpendicular to the tides of expectations. In fact, I particularly liked the noise my motorcycle made for me when I removed the baffle from the aftermarket exhaust pipe. I was safer in the envelope of rowdy noise; people unable to handle my speed and maneuverability could at least hear me coming, curse and get out of the way.

"May I have this dance?" That's the way it was supposed to be done whether you were at a house party in Gardena or at a Cotillion at the Marina City Club. But the look I got at the Oakwood Gardens in Mid Wilshire, several blocks north of McArthur Park around the joints where who knows what white kids with money and clout started saying something deep about Ice-T back in the days when he was just another anonymous light-skinned nigga with a perm, that was the shit that did it. It made me realize that I couldn't keep wearing this Jheri Curl and roller discoing with the homegirls forever. Time was going to come when the skinny ghetto nigga look such as I was presenting wasn't hitting on shit. Sooner or later I had to be able to afford membership to Jack LaLannes in West LA because there ain't no college gym nearby. If you were going to get play, it had to be with the ghetto girls. There are sophisticated reasons for that, but it's fair enough to state flatly for now that the college freshmen babes were playing ghetto rules for the last time. That look in her eyes said all that, and she was pissed at me for making her think about which motherfucker I was going to be tonight. I reminded her of both places, neither a buff thug, nor a smooth Kappa with a shag haircut. Next time I'd know better, just grab the girl's arm and start slowdancing; make her pull away physically instead of waiting for a spoken reply.

Since it was still summer and there was still a Democrat in the White House, there was still big hipped girls from Eastern colleges, schoolboy glasses like Bernard and short afros and throaty voices taking CETA money. One of them just like that brought it to the Virginia Road playground. I don't know how I ended up there. Maybe I was sitting out a game while Suitcase and Boo and the rest of my boys were running the court. But I was there staring her down, her and her white friends who weren't saying anything at all. They were waiting for Act One. Right now was the prelude - the time the black woman gets to speak in front of a pile of children she pretends that she was once like. But none of us are like her but me, because I'm the only one who already knows what 'The Tempest' is all about in the inner-city playground production. She's going to talk all that yang about why black kids need to understand what Shakespeare knows about class and alienation and all that bullshit. I could be Caliban and jump in her face in front of her white friends. What would she say then? Fuck it. I'm going back to play some more basketball.

Let me throw in the final connection which gets back to the contempt of the pros I assume I am worthy of. I've dissed Kevin Powell so hard somewhere back in the archive that it must still hurt. But there are all these black writers who were supposed to be in New York when I was there looking for them. Except they were all trying to get their poetry published in the New Yorker. And then I read the B-Boys book complete with the misspellings, and I knew shit was fucked up. And then I went to the Upper East Side and listened to Shay Youngblood who was the only one out of her cohort with any talent. And then I watched my girl struggle with a third of a million dollars of debt birthing a magazine that would not be, and all the gang-sign thowing illiterates at the Source and Vibe were another third of the reason. I could tell you about the voice of the woman who wrote for the Lower East Side something rag who never returned my call on an answering machine which must have had audiophile quality tape recording features. There's no excuse. I could tell you about Sekou Sundiata sitting in the shadow of Five Guys Named Moe, but all that would reveal too much about a the broken heart of a broken writer looking for existential partners in the City that Never Weeps.

I read Drylongso and was released. Don't nobody need it bad enough. I could go out and get shot in the temple and see never a holy word drip through my lips, not a mumbling word. And babies will still be born with no further assistance from my typewritten serenades. Don't nobody need a 'voice'. Maybe they will because people will forget Wole Soyinka, and they'll need somebody to think about while in tomorrows Abu Ghraib. But I shouldn't presume to take God's job. I write and it's fine to be ignored, because people are still capable of making up reasons. Nobody pays enough attention to people's idiotic reasons. Only writers get that much attention, now ain't that a bitch?

Stop writing. I don't need to. I don't particularly want to. If I couldn't go dead off on the page, I'd pace the walls of my gilded cage and fly upside down like Woodstock. I've been unleashed too long and I'm known to break up fights. What would I do walking the streets and looking at humanity and expecting to interact with them directly based upon what they're doing? I'd have to be a soldier, a double-agent, a psychopath and a televangelist all wrapped up in a pimp suit to do in action what I would in writing. And that's just on Thursdays.

It's 5pm and I smell hotdogs. See ya.

Posted by mbowen at 03:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Jerry Orbach

OK you would have never convinced me in a million years, but it's true. Jerry Orbach who just retired from Law & Order's Lt. Briscoe is the same Jerry Orbach who was the voice of Lumiere in 'Beauty & The Beast'.

Yes, the little Frenchy candlestick who sings 'Be Our Guest' is Jerry Orbach. Well blow me down.

Posted by mbowen at 02:27 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

DJ Six0Seven

I'm thinking about doing something else as a hobby in the mid-term. That may be going back to the basics and playing an instrument, or it may be just mastering the electronics. I'm not really sure.

What I do know is there's a kind of music that I would like to hear a bit more of - or perhaps I should say that it's something I never tire of. It has a lot to do with Charlie Hunter, but I'll get back to him later. Basically when Sade does a tune with a hiphop beat, that's what I'm talking about - a funked up Cafe Del Mar, or a Laswell that doesn't trip entirely too hard. That's where Sixoseven music is, carrying weight for the cool of the future. Funk, ambient, hiphop and torchy blues.

It turns out that there are two layers of hope. The first is that Turntablism is ramping up. I'm hopefull that I have the fingers for it and I'm pretty sure that I have the theory. I found a couple of interesting docs. This is the TTM. I don't know how widely adopted it is, but it seems pretty cool. Now I jumped all over hiphop for not getting out of the street, but it looks like some of that is happening for real. The creation of a language that allows turntablism to be transcribed, that's what I'm talking about.

The second inno is that digital turntables are serious business now. I got to get one of those puppies.

Posted by mbowen at 07:52 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Einstein's Negro

Care of Art McGee

There is, however, a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the "Whites" toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.

Many a sincere person will answer: "Our attitude towards
Negroes is the result of unfavorable experiences which
we have had by living side by side with Negroes in this
country. They are not our equals in intelligence, sense
of responsibility, reliability."

I am firmly convinced that whoever believes this suffers
from a fatal misconception. Your ancestors dragged these
black people from their homes by force; and in the white
man's quest for wealth and an easy life they have been
ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery.
The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the
desire to maintain this unworthy condition.

---Albert Einstein
"The Negro Question", 1946

Posted by mbowen at 02:06 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

September 23, 2004


There's a big stink over the imminent closure of the Trauma Center of the twentysomething MLKJr Hospital down in the ghetto. It would be the 6th Tramua Center closed in LA County in the past couple of years. The others were due to budget irresponsibility, this is due to incompetence.

It seems to me that if a hospital is incompetent, the ER should be the last thing you close down. It's the thing the community needs the most. Not just because its a ghetto, but because most people don't need to be hospitalized, they just need to see a doctor. On the other hand, if you've been critically injured, there's no quicker way to kill you than in an incompetent ER.

So the question is would you rather see an incompetent doctor who is 10 minutes away or a competent doctor 40 minutes away. That depends on where you've been shot or how small your automobile was when it wrecked. The LA County Board of Supervisors, whose call this is, are going for quality over quantity, and hoping beyond hope that more people don't get wrecked or shot.

It's a crapshoot.

One thing I've learned as I've followed this is that the more ERs you close, the higher the murder rate of the city goes. More people die who might have lived.

Posted by mbowen at 10:51 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Semper Pol

Posted by mbowen at 08:57 AM | TrackBack

September 22, 2004

Kerry the Emissary

I listened to Kerry spew out his new soundbites against the 'arrogance' and 'bad choices' of GWBush today on NPR. Yike. This guy is really bad. Again, no plan.

Here's the line of questioning a reporter with balls should ask Candidate Kerry, should he or she get a chance:

How good is Kerry's grasp of the geopolitical reasons that the dissenting Europeans fail to send troops to Iraq? His current responses hang it all on the 'arrogance' of the President. The logical conclusion of this, and key to Kerry's argument, is that a changing of the guard will restore 'credibility' to US foreign policy.

But let's get down to specifics. The rebellion in Iraq has made the place unsafe for elections, which disables the provisional government's validity. This is really the nut of any argument about things going bad in Iraq. The question is whether or not this is the same nut for the dissenting Euros + Russia. (Let's agree to call them the Weasels, OK?)

If the problem with 'Bush's War' is that it was too unilateral then what is the Weasel interest in keeping troops away now? Do they not support Allawi? Or is it simply too dangerous for them to commit troops? There doesn't seem to be any wiggle room when you say the occupation is going poorly because of the rebellion, because on one hand either the rebellion can be crushed with more troops or it can be diplomatically supressed with more supplication. Why would the Europeans choose to do anything in support of Allawi (or against him) only after the US election? The answer is that they wouldn't. The Weasels are withholding support from the alliance because they are betting against what Bush started, plain and simple. They are either incapable or unwilling to make the situation in Iraq any better than it is. It makes absolutely no sense that this attitude would suddenly change based upon the US presidential race. Unless you believe that the Weasels' logic is identical to that presented by Candidate Kerry. I do not.

The second line of questioning goes something like this:

Kerry suggests that Bush made the wrong choices because he was beholden to the ideologues. He's halfway right. However Kerry refuses to talk about what he would do, other than 'restore credibility' to make the situation on the ground in Iraq any better.

So is Senator Kerry getting his strategic view of Iraq from Fox News? If not, then whom? We know who the PNAC is and what they are all about. We understand their ideas and why they said 'go' on Iraq. We have no idea where Kerry's braintrust lives or what it thinks. Remember what Dumbledore said about that.

Here, Candidate Kerry is doing a Clarence Thomas. He is suggesting that he is eminently qualified to occupy the highest office in the land, but is not giving any clues as to his strategic position on critical issues he will inevitably handle. Kerry refuses to answer hypotheticals on Iraq. All he says is that GWBush was wrong, wrong, wrong.

This is shady.

Posted by mbowen at 08:50 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Trial of Tears

The pantywaists who shackled themselves to a tree seven years ago are going to kill yet another piece of woods as they appeal for the third time.

You remember these fainthearted protestors who got hostile about the fact that police officers applied pepper spray to them when they refused to unshackle themselves. Of course it wasn't the normal application of a good squirt from the sprayer, but a light dose with q-tips. So far, two different juries have failed to render any judgements against the officers' tactics. But our protestors are undaunted and will take up more years of their lives in pursuit of cosmic justice, generating another ton of paperwork.

Nice going.

Posted by mbowen at 08:28 PM | TrackBack

Raymond Cobb Bowen

There are a lot of reasons that I am proud of my family, but I've got to admit, it sounds like a whole new level when other people are saying nice things. He has now been included into the HistoryMakers site. We continue to be proud of this man, who just turned The Big 70! Like Pops, Unk defies his age. I don't know where they got that picture because most of the time, he's looking dead at you and you know it. In fact, I really don't like that picture and I'm going to replace it as soon as I find a better one.

Scientist turned college administrator Raymond Cobb Bowen was born September 19, 1934 in New Haven, Connecticut. Growing up in the Elm Haven public housing projects, Bowen's parents, Raymond Curtis Bowen and Lucille Cobb Bowen, were frustrated in their attempts to gain a higher education and wanted more for their son. He attended Baldwin and Winchester elementary schools and graduated from James Hillhouse High School in 1952. He earned a B.A. in zoology in 1956 from the University of Connecticut, an M.S. in biology from the University of New Mexico in 1962 and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in parasitology and biochemistry in 1966. From 1956 to 1959, Bowen served in the United States Army.

What the HistoryMakers folks probably don't know but I'll tell you, is that Unk is a tremendously competitive man. He studied martial arts and has a pretty sharp mind for real estate. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy with a that classic Bowen laugh, but is the last guy you want to cross. I still have yet to study enough at the feet of this master of administration and bureacratic politics but I assure you that in a manner of speaking, Putin has got nothing on Unk. Look at those dates and those positions and you suddenly understand how much he was a pioneer and the highest ranking black anything a lot of people ever saw. He can wheel and deal like nobody's business, which made him loved and feared from what I could tell at my distance. Unk's quite a prankster too. I like that very much about him.

Like most leaders, Unk can read people like a book. I'm glad he's been patient with me and I know that he's helped me break through the Gordian Knots of life, whereas if I only had Pops' influence, I'd be contemplating forever. Unk is one of three or four people in the universe who may be able to barbecue better than I, and I can't wait to get out to the next reunion on the East Coast next summer. Wait 'til you see what his kids are up to.

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September 21, 2004

Rant Time

I have had no time whatsoever and I am neglecting all kinds of things and people. I spent 2 hours in traffic heading West home from work today with a huge ball of Sun in my eyeballs - completely unable to see traffic signals and stop signs. Every idiot was aiming to dent up my Chevrolet and I was getting sick of the same songs on the CDs I bother to burn.

Pops was supposed to be here for dinner so everybody cleaned up the house and suddenly he has a Vestry meeting he forgot. So I'm rushing home (and making no progress) for nothing. There are weevils in the flour so the spousal unit is going to make me fetch some more for the fried chicken- but I was supposed to be BBQing steaks.

I still haven't gotten paid for more than two of my 16 weeks of work for the second job (of four) that I'm currently working. I know this is like Trump complaining that he's losing money in Jersey, while he's making money in NY but if I didn't complain during the good times, how could I respect myself as a competitor? I've still got bronchitis and I'm sick of coughing like a goddamned geezer. It really makes me angry. Every time I breathe deeply I feel like I'm going to hurl.

There's a chick who sits across from my fourth desk on the job who is totally distracting to me. I am not, repeat not, accustomed to having incredibly hot babes around me at work. I can't fricking function. And she doesn't have the decency to have a name plate at her desk so I can't figure out her email address. I have to say something to piss her off so that I can get her out of my mind, but I absolutely can't figure out how to do it.

I have to meet with my accountant and my Quickbooks are two months out of joint. I have to complete my assessment for the new project. My boy wrote a retarded essay about how the native Americans wore shorts and T-shirts after the end of the Ice Age. F9 is complaining that fourth grade is too hard. Some spammer named Bob is driving me up the wall. I am sick of talking about politics and it is interfering with my ability to write decent music reviews. I haven't been online with my gaming clan in over a week and I have completely dropped the ball on the Black Hole thing.

I need to buy a new linux box, a new latptop, a new for port KVM, a new Hollywood suit and a new car. A guy from Deloitte literally walked up to me and said he could get me a job and I sent him an old lame resume like an ass. My Beijing connection called me and asked me what's up and I stuttered like a damned fool.

I don't have enough frigging time.

I tried to eat a fruit salad from McDonald's today. It was just apples, grapes and yogurt and I paid 3 bucks. Fortunately the Chicken McNuggets were on point. I'm still 20 pounds overweight. I pay 67 bucks for a family membership to the Y and none of us have been in 2 months. I'm sitting up here at my desk and a bag of Chips Ahoy is staring me down.

I'm sure that I have 40 posts in 'Draft' mode on the blog, but I can't get the words out. So I make them into cartoons instead. My fingernails are dirty and I can't find the clippers. Speaking of which, I need to buy a new blade for my electric clippers. They snagged on my head the other day and I had to shave too many millimeters of hair with a razor. That Olivier version of Henry V was a complete waste of $25 and Groove is not synching with my old tired laptop.

I'll tell you what else is getting on my nerves today. I'm starting to like the really weird Modest Mouse songs on their latest album, and I realized that I have absolutely no Shostakovich. Burnout 3 is sold out everywhere and I still haven't preordered Halo2. eMule is incredibly slow.

Well, at least Ambra pinged me three times tonight, and Chip and Kim won. Tomorrow is another day. I'm out.

Posted by mbowen at 11:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Chip & Kim Win!

OK I admit it. The spousal unit and I have been watching the Amazing Race for the past three weeks and on and off before that. Our team won.

I don't think I saw anything in the couples that nobody else could see, and I didn't really feel strange about them being black, although I get embarrassed for anyone who stresses out and calls out to Jesus for help. I didn't really start pulling for Chip & Kim until they put the time-out on the Models. Then they were fumbling with the Jeepney parts and barely got out of Manila. So when Brandon got behind the bull and lost his mind, I was jumping for joy.

Still, I could relate to Chip. He's got big daddy written all over him. He's a big teddy bear, and I know we could hang out. I liked the Bowling Moms too. Being 43, I know I've got a backhand reserved for childless couples, so what can I say? There's definitely an existential thing going on. But I'm really happy for them, and since they're down here in Southern Cal maybe I'll bump into them.

But wait. He did say that being from Cali, he wasn't ready for the cold. Dang! How can he represent Orange County and be a non-snow bird? What's up with that? Anyway. It's all good. Congrats to Chip and Kim. Good winners. Good people.

Posted by mbowen at 11:22 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


It struck me suddenly that John Ashcroft has not been a political liability to GWBush at all. I had considered for a moment that John Kerry, if he had any sense, would make hay of the political liability of John Ashcroft. But there is none.

It absolutely floors me that nobody has made Ashcroft into the ball and chain he could have been. Has he done no wrong?

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The Bad Plus at the Knitting Factory

I'm clearly not going to be able to transcribe my experience last week at the Knitting Factory. I'd be drafting this post forever. I'll just put it out there. In a word, phenomenal.

The Bad Plus is an acoustic jazz trio that performs like a rock band. They have, between the three of them, as much dynamic range as an orchestra. The amount of noise, control and wit they display is mind-boggling. At once you want to close your eyes and absorb it all, then you want to shout for them to play a favorite song, and then you want to stare with your mouth open. Then you look at the crowd and see if all the dudes are bopping their heads at the same rhythm that you're feeling. Yep.

I spent the better part of an hour mesmerized by drummer David King's acrobatics. Using everything from walkie-talkie feedback to tinkle toys, he extracts a pile of clinks, bumps and grinds from his kit that bring to mind the raving staccato of cups against bars in an asylum. His arms seem to be doing the rubber pencil trick. I've never seen cymbals go from full roar to silence in a fraction of a second and then back again in the next. He stands and slams the outside of the cymbals and a half second later he is seated at the hihat with all of the gongs silent, a half second later he's rubbing a stainless steel mixing bowl over the ribs of the kettle drum. What you hear in the end is extraordinary punctuation bracketing playful silences in the midst of Bad Plus music.

Ethan Iverson, the pianist, suited up, is playing as if he had an entire symphony behind him. He is at once completely in his own world of intricate melodies and in eerie synch with the band. He has a perfect sense of oblivion to the antics of his sidemen, and when watching the trio from behind him, stage left, you get a completely different sense of the band. He runs with his right hand and doesn't play left like a jazz pianist at all not that you'd hear much considering the prodigious work of the bassman, Reid Anderson who manages to hold all this wild energy together. As the writer of most of the material played, Reid knows what works and has an impressive sense of what these three can do.

I didn't hear my favorite of their tunes from their most recent albums 'Vistas' and "Give' which is called 'Dirty Blonde', but I recognized enough of what they did play to realize that what sounds unleahsed is actually very precise. In fact, when you really get to know the complications of their rhythmic interpretations you find that they are suggestive and playful almost to the point of silliness. They stretch everything beyond breaking with an almost cartoon physics, and yet without quite swinging, they rock. They literally rock.

It is in this that they are a phenomenon in the making. Their cover of 'We Are The Champions' is subtle, witty, melodic and punctuated with just the right reconstructions of their deconstructions. More of this will make them big stars.

Posted by mbowen at 06:51 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 20, 2004

Think Big

Posted by mbowen at 09:28 PM | TrackBack

September 19, 2004

Bush vs Al Sadr

This past April, GWBush called Al Sadr by name. Today, Al Sadr is not in jail. I happen to believe Moqtada Al Sadr to be a murdering scumbag jackleg Hamas symp and a wanker as well. I suppose I could be more kind and call him the leader of an insurgency, but I must confess to not have read quite enough of Juan Cole. Be that as it may, it upsets me that five months have passed and this asshat has not yet been arrested.

If anyone can provide a concise explanation to why this has not occurred - that our President has called for his head and he is still running around free with his ragtag outfit - please help me understand. I have a myth to maintain, which is that when the President calls you out, and the Marines are shooting at you, you lose.

I'll say it now. Al Sadr free is making GWBush look foolish.

Reference One.
Download file

Posted by mbowen at 10:19 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


This time it was me. You know, the slightly harried bald middle aged guy yelling "Hey Kids", on the verge of losing patience. Fortunately, I have the Master Sargeant voice and the ear piercing whistle, and yes I did make Chris get down and give me 5 pushups. But on the whole, my kids, my brother's kids and my other brother's kids, and my sister's kid were all pretty good this weekend camping at Cachuma Lake.

There's not much to say. A car and a truck packed to the gills with gear. 3 adults, 9 kids under 12, 5 tents, 3 days and two nights, (not to mention 100 wasps and a hungry raccoon.) We managed to get the six girls in one tent - the giggles could be heard clear across the lake.

We swam. We hiked. We ate. We sang. We chanted. We watched birds, told stories, and did Indian dances around the campfire. One of us even had a White Russian in a hammock between two massive oak trees and finished off a few crossword puzzled between naps.

There's about an inch of crud on all of us and I hope we don't have to call the plumber after tonights showers. Maybe things will be back to normal tomorrow.

Posted by mbowen at 08:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 17, 2004


Do you know what November 9, 2004 is?

It is the debut of the most eagerly anticipated game in the history of gaming: Halo 2. This past week the Beta of the game completed. All the news is awesome. New weapons, new vehicles, new capabilities.

We have predicted that grades and productivity will drop all over the nation, as gamers get immersed in Halo2.

Posted by mbowen at 10:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Charlie Hunter + The Bad Plus

I went to the concert last night. My head is still reeling. I'm digging into my pack of superlatives and will try to deliver my review before I head off to the hills to go camping this weekend.

Awesome. Phenomenal.

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September 16, 2004

A Man's Home is His Castle

On my way to Wal-Mart last evening I was cursing traffic, wondering who's blogging Ivan, and rehashing an old argument about the Civil Rights Movement being over and done with in conjunction with thoughts about McWhorter's rejection of 'African American'. The other thing, which is a bit closer to my core, that has gotten under my skin is some reference P6 made about the Ownership Society and Feudalism.

Feudalism is good.

Here's what I believe. I believe that in 15 years the blogosphere will be to big media news what cable TV is to broadcast TV today. That means there will be '500 wire services and no real news'. As the proliferation of information technology transforms the literate world, a great number of societal norms will break down. Are you with me so far?

The paradigm is every man's home is his castle. It's becoming more real. We are less a grey flannel suit hierarchical society than we were 30 years ago. Secretaries don't do our typing for us, we don't hold jobs for 25 years, and the idea of the pension is about to go the way of the tie clasp. The upside is that we are more independently able to do for ourselves than ever before. Through technology and our changing culture, we are composers, publishers. We depend less on traditional structures of organization, we do more of our own networking. Community is more important - we do play dates. We get our own circle of close friends and families, cell phones, email distribution lists, frequent flyer clubs, online gaming clans, investment clubs, Tivo profiles. This is feudalism people.

Quick. Who is the richest person you know? If it's not somebody you work for, chances are you're on your way to figuring out why your fortunes lie somewhere outside of traditional paths.

I bring this up tangentially to the extraordinary point Nykola brought up this Spring. An all abiding trust in our secular society and the promise of education is being eroded. The creation of our own private networks is more important than what's out there for the public. Now perhaps this is something I just see because I am climbing through certain social classes I hadn't previously experienced. But the power available to the average American with regard to financial instruments, and other dangerous accoutrements of the Ownership Society do indeed move us towards feudal networks.

I see feudalism going from the bottom up, it is the ultimate expression of self-determination, of family bonds and trust in self as opposed to dependence upon institutions. Feudalism is the exact opposite of corporatism and to a certain extent of modernism itself. Feudal relationships and peer networks should be unbreakable.

Here in the blogosphere we're all great examples. We all know who our blogfathers are - those who send us the most traffic. They are our lords. Our recognition owes not only to our own skills but with our association. The organization may be flat and shallow, but the direction of power and notariety goes from the top down. When I'm blogrolled by Glenn Reynolds, I don't pretend that he needs me more than I need him (though I haven't gotten much traffic from Glenn lately... hmm). These links are far more important than the generic ones people get to broadcast news.

One more tidbit to add to this is that over in La Puente, there are old Chinese women who drive S Class 420s at 25 mph in the 40 mph zone. You'll never see them on the Westside. Where do they come from, where do they go? It doesn't matter - they're just hooked up in their little networks. That's where we're headed. There will be no mainstream.

Posted by mbowen at 09:13 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Blog Ho

I just now found out about the Blog Ho. Maybe I am too serious.

I don't know why anybody should bother to wonder where exactly America is going because homechick doesn't represent. After all, she's just a dumbshit white girl with nice legs on vacation from reality. With that in mind I'll cut this entry short. She got her 15 minutes.

Posted by mbowen at 09:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 15, 2004

Four More Years!

It occurred to me that if John Kerry wins this election, he'll have to appoint Michael Moore Minister of Truth. Or as Orwell would say, Minitrue. As I leaned out of my abstention a few weeks ago, I've been hearing more things about Iraq that raise its importance over domestic concerns.

One can still get, here in Los Angeles, a 650k loan with no points at 5.89%APR. Well, you can, I can't and I'm not trying. But since we still get our gas cheaper than the Europeans, things can't be all that bad - except for the least of our brothers as usual. But Christopher Dickey and Samantha Power have emerged on my radar and they make me want to look at Iraq again and again. I hear that 18 Billion earmarked for reconstruction hasn't gone anywhere (you can't have it spent and complain about KBR too). There are lots of reasons to remain focused on Iraq, not to mention Iran and North Korea.

I really, really want to see GWBush re-elected, because that's the only way that the opposition is going to prove they have a better idea. Kerry hasn't shown his, and the Congress is absolutely silent. If this election is to be the most important test of our democracy, then let it be a test of the whole of the democracy and not just the presidential horse race. Let's see the other branches of government start flexing their muscles. Let's the the people do more than go out to the movies and say "Yeah what he said".

There is only one way to make GWBush accountable for what he has begun in Iraq. That's to force him to do the right thing, not to kick him to the curb. I don't want any tit for tat. I don't want to see democratic complacency. I don't want to wait another 18 months to get a grip on who the new head of the Pentagon is. I want to see somebody force the president to fire somebody.

That's what I'm talking about.

Posted by mbowen at 08:35 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Supply & Demand

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John McWhorter and the Beginning of Blackness

What strikes me most about John McWhorter's latest essay on blackness is that he spells out his name. It's a deeply personal thing that resonates with me, and with my father as well. The long and short of it is that John would appreciate it if we never call him 'African American' again. I agree with him, fundamentally. But when he says we should use Black with a capital 'B', I become enthusiastic.

I don't know how many times I've written about African American vs Black. It's pointless to search this site for a citation. (But this is interesting, especially given my evolving appreciation of JM) The basic way I've been using the terms since Jesse encouraged the use of African American is this: African American is demographic & ethnic. Black is cultural and political. Black is a self-definition, it is an intellectual construction of mental liberation from the chains of an identity defined by white supremacy.

In order to substitute Black for African American, as McWhorter suggests, leaves us in a bit of a quandary. You see, in order to accept Frederick Douglass as Black, one has to do a bit of anachronistic fudging. Is it reasonable to say that Douglass' problem was very much like my problem? Do we have the same problem with the Fourth of July? No, not exactly. Douglass predated the Black Consciousness Movement. But if you broaden the principle, you could say that Douglass' solution was a Black solution. In fact, in order to call Sojourner Truth or Mary Bethune the same Black as Medgar Evers or Stokely Carmichael you'd have to do some awfully clever trickery. But let's assume that were possible. The great advantage is that you could place the best of all historical African American (demographic) political philosophy, into one big Black bucket, and then have all African Americans feed from the same trough.

I hear scholars screaming 'Ahistorical'. OK, true. But not quite as ahistorical as Africa's effects on us blackfolks as any good linguist will tell you. I will leave it to the scholars to work out the kinks in such a program. However, I will enthusiastically endorse the existentials of capital B Blackness, because I know where this fifth generation McWhorter is not taking it. He is not taking it to the hiphop streets.

I've been using the term 'blackfolks' and 'whitefolks' here. So let me remind you what exactly I mean by that. Blackfolks would be average African Americans who have an average amount of Black Consciousness and apply it to themselves. Whitefolks would be the average European Americans with and average amount of White Consciousness applied to themselves. You're black if you understand what it means to be black in America and you have some sense of the lessons of Black Consciousness. Simple. Consequently, as Boohab, I have demanded that whitefolks ask themselves why they continue obliviously to act white. Because everybody knows what that means.

But a new capital B Black would force a renewed evaluation of whether blackfolks are indeed acting Black. Considering the fact that he's claiming it positively I do not doubt that the inevitable conclusion is that there is something of value he sees in it. In other words, there must be a false 'black' which stands in distinction from the true 'Black'. Otherwise why would he care to claim 'Black' instead of the falsity of 'African American'? It has to do with pride, and that must be the pride of accomplishment. In other words to be Black you have to claim the right accomplishment, you have to be proud of the right things.

This is not the end, but the beginning of a new Blackness.

Posted by mbowen at 12:46 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

Sy Hersh's Fear

I think I understand Sy Hersh's point based on hearing him speak (and stutter) to Terri Gross this evening.

Hersh has to be a permanent thorn in the side of any non-pacifist administration. When he discovered that war was nothing like John Wayne movies it must have shocked him into a permanent state of apoplexy. He says America didn't know. It was just him. My people knew what ugly was.

It's a good thing that we don't have to depend on people of his sensibility to define victory in war. He thinks all war is hell and that no good can come of it. This son of immigrants who went to school for free thinks no good can come of war. But he has to be who he has to be. I think he is a very reasonable person, for a journalist, but I also think he exhibits exactly the kinds of traits that David Brooks predicted. That when suddenly his inside Washington 'friends' kick him to the curb and he realizes what power is and what it is not, and it hurts to know he doesn't have it. Thus the stuttering. Hersh understands that there are lines he cannot cross, names he cannot divulge, that his compact - his code of secrecy, his journalistic shield - is the only thing that keeps him in the loop. He is the agent of dissent. He is the link between power and consent.

To undo the role of sensitive journalists in the American system is something that would be a jarring shock to the systems of checks and balances. But that journalists are involved is a striking indictment of the system itself. Nobody speaks out like Benedict Arnold any longer. Nobody speaks out like Thomas Paine any longer. That job has been outsourced. You see we cannot depend on the integrity of individuals within the system to stop, resign, tell the truth and be done with it. We're team players, and when the team heads in the wrong direction we're captive. What if these 'highly placed administration officials' blogged their own confessions and put Sy Hersh out of business? Fat chance.

That's not an option. So all journalists have to be rats. Fortunately, Hersh has the exact sensibility. He is a man shocked by dog bites, as he must be for those of us in this vast land who are. How would anyone know anything if journalists weren't overly sensitive? You can't depend on the team to break ranks. Where else are they going to work? I mean 99.8% of Americans could not answer the question, who is Scooter Libby and what does he do? But we have sensitive journalists to raise alarums on Scooter's pals when and if they behave badly and Scooter can't stand up and say so. That's why the immigrant son and the guy named Scooter are linked. That's why we depend on Hersh and his peers.

Someday when my eyes get too weak to correct and my fingers too frail to type, I'll have to depend on people right in front of my face. And depending on how much fear that generates in me, I will pray to God to save me from it. Whatever 'it' is. I'll be too old to fight it and I will wish for a world where 'it' didn't exist. And I'll think back on the days of my youth and vigor when we didn't have to worry about 'it' and 'it' didn't harden and coursen all the men who deal with it. And the fight the youth will fight will frighten me, because I'll be an old man closer to death, closer to the end of my powers on earth. Because there will be nothing I can do about 'it'. I don't know what that thing will be for me, but I think for Sy Hersh 'it' is terrorism. He is afraid of what it has done to his old pal Rumsfeld. It has turned Rumsfeld into a man who doesn't care much about the care and feeding of prisoners.

Sometime soon I'm going to read up on Samantha Power. She suggests that there are some crimes that are unpunishable. I truly want to understand that, because having contemplated Putin's fate these days, I lost my mind. I know the burden falls to the strong and to the wise, but to my eye the King must always kill the Assassin. Even when the Assassin's rationale makes the King wiser. In the meantime, I must deal with the fact that I'm bloodied by this war, and no matter how righteous my cause the blood on my hands is just as thick.

I don't believe it was Hersh's job to weigh the costs of Abu Ghraib, secret operations or any of Bush's initiatives and reactions. It's his job to report the costs. That he is incapable of weighing them doesn't make his job any less important. In fact, the more spirited our team is, the more necessary Hersh's position. Too bad. Because we know Colin Powell ain't Benedict Arnold. None of the President's men has the stomach. But in the end Hersh is just a link, and the final judgement lies with us citizens. As much as I appreciate the candor he forces through his professional craft, I'm not convinced that all of this wasn't worth it. I may be wrong about that, but at least I'm telling you straight.

Posted by mbowen at 12:29 AM | TrackBack

September 14, 2004

Fear Factor: Torture?

Yesterday I heard that Seymour Hersch, the New Yorker columnist who made his fame breaking the My Lai Massacre has now published a book which indicts the Bush Administration for Abu Ghraib tortures.

I've said before that the elements of torture revealed to me were not surprising, or particularly horrific and that most of them appeared to fall into two categories. One: Going over a known line in the usual course of interrogations. Two: Amaturish pranks by weekend warriors. Most attention has been focused on the second category. Of them I have said that the reason they are not surprising is because of the content of American vulgar pop culture as exemplified by our jocularity about prison rape ("Don't drop the soap" - Martha Stewart's bunkmates, etc) and television and movies, particularly 'Fear Factor'.

I watched Fear Factor again the other night. There were three stunts. On the other side of these stunts were $50,000 of prize money.

1. Climbing to a height of 110 feet over concrete pavement, leap 8 feet to a cargo net. (Subject is tethered).

2. Eat after thorough chewing 5 live earthworms & 1 live centipede.

3. Crawl 200 yards through a sewage pipe in pitch darkness.

Is this torture? If we made prisoners of war do this, would we be cited by human rights organizations? Does the $50,000 make a difference? Does volunteering make a difference?

Somebody please explain to me exactly how this qualifies as entertainment.

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Scarred For Life

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September 13, 2004

Obligatory Seriousness on Rathergate

So that's what everybody was talking about.

I find it rather amazing that so much blather can be actually summed up better in one minute piece on NPR than in 15,000 blogs. Summaries are not what we do well here.

I think it is notable, and perhaps I've said this before, that blogs represent the excess intellectual capacity of our nation. For everyone who is not an editor in a newsroom, yet has the ability to be one, blogs can make real talent that would otherwise remain trapped in 10000 brains. Instead 10000 blogs flower and big media sneezes. But it's not just journalism whose inefficiencies will be exposed, but those of every other industry people will choose to blog about.

This is not really new, but it is the strange relationship between journalism and computer mediated communications that brings it to our attention. Certainly before blogs, online communities performed the same function. We only heard about the Well because so many there were journalists. We only heard about Salon because they dared to call themselves a journal.

Over here, I've been invested in CMC for so long that I honestly haven't watched Dan Rather for 10 minutes straight since he covered the LA Riots.

Aside from all that derivative nonsense is the derivative nonsense which is the material focus of this 'scandal'. Note to self, if it has a -gate, it's not worth your attention. The election season is too long, it's like Christmas ads in September. If you don't know what you want, then you watch more television and pay more attention. The only people that benefit from this length are the political consultants and others who profit from the massive size of campaigns these days. Certainly not thoughtful people who don't need voter registration drives and television news to get a thoughtful political response out of us. No doubt Michael Moore will usher in a new era of spending. You heard it here first, 527s will go from 30 second spots to short films to feature length.

I find it an appalling waste of the heretofore mentioned excess capacity that so many minds are occupied with such minutia. But since so many people spend so much energy and money on such picayune matters, they end up mattering. I'm not one to tell you what an historian might notice but I fail to see how the zillion pages of blogging over this could possibly amount to anything referenceable 20 years from now when one of us bloggers runs for office. I've often wondered what it is that hapless graduate students must put up with when they decide to research and how many of us will ultimately merit the attention of one miserable PhD candidate. Short of that how is anyone to displace professional journalists, warts and all? Rather isn't making a mistake, nobody should be paying this much attention to this amount of trivial detail. We are below the limit of causality here, it's all informational Brownian Motion. We're not seeing the forest for the seedlings.

Posted by mbowen at 08:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Suppress This!

If you catch me gaming online, especially in racing games, you might hear me say with competitive contempt "Out of my way, peasant!". Sometimes that is followed with "I am your king!" accent on the second word, following the Monty Python skit. Like Moe Greene at Sydney, I am letting people know that they are about to get served.

But even on more serious occasions, though I am often likely to dress like an underachiever in various homeboy suits, incognegro, I still retain a certain amount of arrogance. Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold. I think it's necessary for a kid who grew up in the 'hood to understand the people and institutions that build the marvels of this civilization. Who would dare take your money and promise to cure cancer? Who would dare build a skyscraper over the ruins of Ground Zero? Who would dare build jets that fly 3 times the speed of sound? Who would dare build networks that could send the digital content of a DVD halfway around the world in four seconds? Americans, that's who. The nerve of these people. But I understand.

When it comes to the title of leader of the free world, and it takes even a greater amount of nerve to invent, much less assume such a title, arrogance has got to be the order of the day. Imagine what it takes to back that up. Well, all of us have to. It's our duty as citizens, and as nervy as we are we choose one to stand above us all.

So it is from the perspective of an uppity negro (RIP Aaron) that I consider the matter of vote suppression. Do I believe that somebody with the nerve to want to be President of the United States would try and suppress the black vote. Yes I do. Do I think they could get away with it? Yep. Do I think they could get away with it twice? Only against peasants.

Deep down in my heart of hearts I believe that most people are peasants. Just as strongly, I believe that nobility has no permanent address and you never know where the next king will be born. Maybe in a cotton field. Perhaps in a manger. So I know that people will not stay down and that abused enough times will rise in their own defense. What goes around comes around, and you really don't want to mess with those pitchforks and torches too many times.

Now John Kerry comes and makes promises to blackfolks like we're all peasants and what we want as blackfolks, more than anything else, is the comfort of knowing that he's on our side when it comes to fighting voter suppression. Considering the fact that I consider myself one of those nobles born among the common folks, how do you think I take that? Well, I tell you. I'll round up some of my fellow nobles and show him exactly our attitude towards usurpers. Though I've learned to be handy with a sword, I might go incognegro and stick a fork in him just to remind him that peasants may be peasants, but they're not all stupid.

You won't find me grumbling about rumors of voter suppression like an old wife. I just know that I'm not about to be intimidated or suppressed, and that people like me won't either. I don't make it my business to second-guess blackfolks. I can only represent the Old School - me and people like me. And you can be sure that we remember who it was who faced the dogs and firehoses. We didn't ask for and weren't looking for a knight in shining armor to come to our emotional rescue, so we won't be yours all yours. We grow our own balls around here and we're not impressed with Kerry's.

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September 12, 2004

On The Passing of Aaron Hawkins

I didn't know AHawk very well. He was one of my blogfathers though. When I started up way back when, it was he, George and Mister JT who passed me most of my traffic. He held up his end of the bargain we blackfolks have with each other and sometimes honor. Crack the door, wave the next brother or sister in. Introduce around, give a pound.

Since I thought it was done on the regular, I put a buck in his tip jar. I got back much more. Recognition which is the currency out here. Every once in a while I hooked into his Friday blogging memes. He called me Tuvok. I liked that.

I heard AHawk took his own life. I know something about that. My youngest brother did that. So I've been through the throes and the therapy. If you are family or friend here's something that might help.

i recall the phone calls coming in after the sudden death of my brother robert. he was only twenty something. it doesn't seem right fixing the number or the date. it simply wasn't his time to die. and yet it was, and so the phone calls kept coming. people were offering their every heartfelt condolence and placing themselves at our beck and call. it occured to me that i didn't know what my beck was, i never had a need to define it. death gave me a reason to think about what people mean to each other at defining moments. it wasn't a gift i was interested in receiving. who wants to be taught by a crisis? who wants to be anything but unconfused when all you can ask is why? why? why?

you know what you think you are supposed to be as you step in and out of uncontrollable moments but what are you? the round robin of emotional devastation and superhuman generosity and courage whipsaws you until you are exhausted. you don't know who you are any longer, you're just tired of being dominated by these thoughts and feelings. but you cannot help it, and somehow you know you shouldn't. and then you stare at the ceiling one day in bed wondering if it really makes any sense at all to bear your burden, your inexplicable burden to carry forward the meaning of a lost one's life in a world determined to move on, obliviously. you go to the park and stare at children in swings. you sit in the bakery and watch people chew donuts. you stare in the mirror and wonder if he really knew how much you loved him. you pick up litter in other people's yards. you hear simple lyrics in simpleminded songs suddenly send deep and poignant shudders rumbling through your soul and you collapse into a shameless heap realizing you were once part of the oblivious world.

once you held loved ones in your arms. and now they are gone. your arms don't only feel empty, they feel useless. what good are arms anymore? life eventually teaches them new things after death has squeezed all the meaning out of them.

I tell you what I'm going to do, which is what I do whenever somebody I know dies. I pick up a piece of their life and I carry it in the direction they were going. So I'm going to find out the closest thing AHawk and I vibed on, and I'll continue on that vibe. So that little part lives on.

Cry now. Cry as hard as you can. Cry it all out now until you dehydrate your eyes. Cry until it hurts, until you can't cry any longer. Until you feel stupid crying. Then pick up that piece and start walking. Strong.

Posted by mbowen at 06:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

New Barbaria

It will be some time before there is a universally accepted definition of terror, but we in the Old School think we know it when we see it. While we've been strong enough and our enemies weak enough since the Civil War to have it reduced to a few massacres, Tulsa and Rosewood come to mind. (You can count Orangeburgtoo if you like.)

There's a disjointed, dislocated empire of dissolution out there called New Barbaria, and Chechnya has just joined the Axis. Or perhaps they joined when they took over that theatre several years ago; they're certainly there now. How the rest of the world is to repel the onslaught of this new barbarism will occupy our best minds for some time.

Posted by mbowen at 04:29 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Like Nine Cans of Shaving Powder

Keywords: Greatest Funk of All Time

Last week, NPR interviewed Xeni about her iPod. Now that's news. Xeni is one of the oxygen suckers on the LA scene. I'd have to be a transvestite sky-diver with a pierced eyeball to get more attention than she, but that's almost besides the point. The end of her piece with Noah Adams proved that he had no clue whatsoever whe the Gap Band is. Now that's really sad.

But it brings to mind a number of sticky problems. The first problem is easily resolved because of a fairly large number of P2P networks out there. The problem is that I only have 4 Gap Band tracks in my collection (Outstanding, Yearning for Your Love, Early in the Morning & Burn Rubber). The second problem is more tricky, which is to decide who occupies Grand Funker Number Two.

You can't get anywhere without saying that George Clinton is the undisputed center of the funk universe. But who is number two is a damned hard decision. Some people would say Bootsy, but I don't think so. It ain't James Brown either - he's soul. Now it's true that JB musically invented funk, but he came nowhere close to taking it to its limits, some of which are still being explored. So I'm just going to start the controversy here and now with some hellafied bands and songs that must be considered.

I think that if you consider the quality and number of funky ass songs that have that ineffable quality, there are four contenders for number two, and several others that are right there.

Ultimate Funk:
Ohio Players
Roger Troutman & Zapp
Steve Arrington & Slave

There is so much that can be said about those bands that I could spend 500 words on each of them. But I won't. I just want you to get your head around the size of this task by complicating it with some more artists who must be considered.

Superstar Funk:
Bar Kays
Rick James & The Stone City Band
Bootsy's Rubber Band
Kool & The Gang
Gap Band
Tower of Power
Larry Graham & Graham Central Station
Brass Construction
SOS Band
Brothers Johnson
Ray Parker
Frankie Beverly & Maze

In There
One Way / Brick / Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers / Pleasure / Johnnie Guitar Watson / Chocolate Milk / BT Express / Dazz Band / Midnight Star / Fatback / Wild Cherry / Jimmy Castor / Trouble Funk / Mother's Finest / Herbie Hancock / Whodini / Breakwater / Pockets / Ozone / Faze-O / Sun / Mass Production / The Meters

For Honorable Mention, I 've got to give props to the artists who weren't really funky most of the time but dropped bombs nevertheless, espeically the class of jazz funkers who dropped the most awesome funky cuts ever made.

George Duke: Reach For It
Lenny White: Peanut Butter
Tom Brown: Funkin' For Jamaica
Michael Henderson: Wide Receiver
David Sanborn: Wake Me When It's Over

Then there's there's the late 80s electric funk on the verge of hiphop:
The Family: Suzanna's Pajamas
Herb Alpert & Janet Jackson: Diamonds
Hashim Al-Naafiyish: The Soul (It's Time)
Africa Bambaataa: Planet Rock

Even though they can be funky, I don't count James Brown, The Isley Brothers, EWF, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Sly & The Family Stone, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield or Michael Jackson. I probably shouldn't count Prince either, but if I had to drop him on one bucket it would be Funk.

Have at it.

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Posted by mbowen at 08:55 AM | TrackBack

The North Korean Bomb

Q: If the DPRK did successfully explode a nuclear device on Thursday, why did we not hear about it until today?

Answer 1: It didn't happen.
Arrogant Analysis 1: Stupid fascists just blew up their own plant trying to stage a bogus test and make everyone fear them. Another escalation of rhetoric will ensue. The North Koreans are all hostages.

Answer 2: That's just how long it takes newspapers to find out because North Korea is so isolated.
Arrogant Analysis 2: Which only proves that the North Koreans are a threat to nobody but themselves. If they dared make a move against anyone, they would be crushed. Blowing up a remote part of their own country is all they can do. The North Koreans are all hostages.

Answer 3: That's just how long it takes newspapers to find out when the US Government wants the news suppressed.
Arrogant Analysis 3: Worry.

Posted by mbowen at 08:44 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 11, 2004

That's What It's All About

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September 10, 2004


I've written that I don't know what to think of Italians. That may be true, but Italian-Americans: we're dogs.

One of my homies from NY and I agree on damned near everything except one: Rudy Giuliani. We both loved him from the beginning up and until Diallo, at which point I kicked him to the curb, especially after he had Carl McCall arrested during a protest. And though I'm glad he rounded up the squeegee pests, I was real keen on his falling out with Chief Bratton. My sentiments were with, and still are, with NYC's former and LA's current Chief of Police. Luima, we don't even need to talk about. So that was three strikes against a guy I used to respect and admire. If Giuliani were a martini, he'd be ice-cold with prime Stoli vodka. But his arrogance added just too damned much vermouth, so I poured him down the drain.

Like a lot of harheaded skeptics, I wasn't prepared to call anybody a hero for doing their job >= nine-eleven. I just don't have that kind of thing in my constitution. People who do admirable jobs do admirable jobs. Medals are for soldiers. But clearly, aspects of the old Rudy shone through, especially because America was not in the mood for too much vermouth in those days. But since I am long gone from NYC and also pleased with various aspects of Bloomberg, I wasn't expecting Rudy to recover.

As it happens, I found this over at Negrophile spoken by none other than Diallo's dad:

"We think at last he has become a good leader," Diallo said in an interview last week. "Because of what he did on Sept. 11th."

"We hope that he has changed. I hope that if he wants to become a leader for the country that he has changed for the better. I think he has the potential."

Huh? What?

If you ask me today who I'd rather have represent my kind of Republican to the nation, I'm not sure you could do much better than Pataki, Giuliani and Whitman. You could throw Arnold into that too, but I prefer the career guys. In fact, I prefer Giuliani because of his background as a prosecutor. He knows where the law and order rubber meets the road, no cheesy legislator or baby-kissing pol he. I like that in my political dudes. I don't believe he has a political future, but I like the stuff he's made of, whereas creatures like Tom DeLay, Phyllis Schlafly and Carl Rove make my head hurt and the back of my throat tingle. I like very much that New York Republicans make Schlafly's stomach upset, but enough with the metaphors of malaise.

If Rudy G has a political future, I think he would be a damned fine replacement for Hillary Clinton. Unlike many on my side of the aisle neither Clinton raises my blood pressure. I could take them or leave them, and although I never trusted Bill, I think he admirably kept his head on when the VRWC was losing its and blaming everything on him. Even though he got creamed in the end, Clinton played defense better than GWBush whom if he loses will be considered the biggest putz in history.

If I were a New Yorker, and I had the option, I'd want to hear something from Bratton, but then I'd very likely vote for Giuliani for Senate in a heartbeat. Then me and my dogs could have a cold one and some sausages on 7th Ave at Tonio's. That would be nice.

Posted by mbowen at 10:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Coop's Chicks

I just had to put this picture up on my site. It's not often that I talk about sex or relationships. It's just one of those rules. If you're not married to me or thinking about my children, I simply don't care. Dowhachalike.

But this is the contribution I wanted to make to Tooley's discussion about interracial relationships.

Posted by mbowen at 05:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ocean Charter Needs Your Help

I forward this on to my readers from my sister Dutz.

As many of you know, N will be starting a new school this fall. The school is opening its doors for the first time September 13th. Ocean Charter is a community of families and educators interested in using innovative teaching methods to educate and nurture children. The method espouses whole child learning which integrates arts and academics together through experiential learning. If you're interested, please check out their website.

The school relies almost entirely on parents' support. Many of the parents have now taken the reigns from the original development team to reach out to the community and ask for help. The originial development team has been working hard the past 2 years to find a site, get the charter approved by the state, hire teachers, contractors, and raise funds. There are still tons of things that the school and specifically N's classroom needs......this is where you all come in (hopefully!)

Following is a list of items we need: (no need to buy, just look through all those bags of goodies you were planning to thow out or give away!)

small book shelves
small sofa (loveseat) or futon
floor pillows
large area rug
small file cabinet
percussion instruments (drums, cymbals, rainsticks)
clip boards
children's books
jump ropes
power strips
cooking utensils
flower vases
baskets (any size)

Please forward this on to anyone you know who might be able to donate or have them contact me directly. THANKS SO MUCH in advance for your donations and time!

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Another Day

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September 09, 2004


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Sylvester James Gates, Jr.

jimpnts4_sm.jpgPops hipped me to SJ Gates who is apparently keeping it right.

Sylvester James Gates, John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, told a radio audience of African American children and their families that they should strive to find the playfulness in science and math, and to understand the role of physics in everything from cell phones to space travel.

"What I would like most for your audience to understand is that (science) belongs to them," said Gates during an interview on a radio program called Delta SEE Connection. "You see for me, all of the mathematics I know, and all of the physics that I understand and the equations that I deal with — for me this is like a basketball and a court. When I go out and do science, I am having fun. I'm doing the thing that's truest to being me. And as an African American I am not separated from this. This is so much a part of me that it's like my listening to music; it is like watching Michael Jordan play or watching Venus or Serena…"

To produce Delta SEE Connection, a weekly radio program, AAAS has joined forces with the nation's largest African American sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the Delta Research and Educational Foundation (DREF).

Entire Article

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Posted by mbowen at 09:21 AM | TrackBack

Southern Strategy & Goldwater Revisited

A new cat out there in the web copied me into an email discussion about the Republican's Southern Strategy, and I've just learned (damn am I late or what?) that Carl Rove was best pals with none other than Lee Atwater. By coincidence some bot found me and reminded me of some statements I made over at Dean's World on the subjects.

I'd like to focus on one figure, that of Barry Goldwater:

I'll name two. Strom Thurmond who broke ranks from the Democratic party to create the 'Dixiecrats' and Barry Goldwater who broke ranks from the Republican Party and President Eisenhower to specifically argue against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In light of this comment written by John Thacker, a dude from Cornell, Goldwater gains relief which might be interesting:

Cobb, your criticism of Strom are fine (though those racists Ernest "Fritz" "I put the Confederate Battle Flag on the SC State Capitol" and Robert "I don't regret having joined the KKK in my youth/ White niggers" Byrd seemed ok with staying in the Democratic Party), but you're completely wrong about Goldwater.

Goldwater was a member of the Urban League who had fought against segregation and restrictive housing convenants in Arizona. He completely supported earlier Civil Rights Law. He completely supported the aspects of the 1963 Civil Rights Act that applied to the government. However, given his libertarian beliefs, he opposed the more coercive aspects of the 1963 Act on private businesses.

He correctly feared that the act, as written, would be interpreted as mandating quotas and Affirmative Action. (Hubert H. Humphrey notably vowed to eat the entire text of the Act if it were ever taken as requiring such a thing.) He attempted to amend it, but to no avail.

Yes, Goldwater's position, honorably and consistently taken, gained him support for racists who saw him as better than the alternative. But slandering him as racist is NO BETTER and NO MORE ACCURATE than slandering honest pacifists as terrorist sympathizers.

When we hear today through the fog of advocacy about the Southern Strategy it is almost inconcievable to hear Goldwater portrayed as anything but a blind screaming racist dedicated to make the Republicans the party of racists. But considering that he lost to Nixon but won the Southern vote, who was actually more racist and which strategy prevailed?

I don't have an answer to this question yet, and I am being Socratic as usual, but it appears that there is a reasonable possibility that some principle stands from the tree of Goldwater which is pro-Civil Rights and anti-Affirmative Action and that's about as 'racist' as it gets. Whatever qualms Goldwater may have had about Affirmative Action having a retarding effect on business profitability has certainly been disproved. And I don't believe he could have countered Loury's astute observations on the persistence of racism via economics. But it stands to reason that if today's Republicans are Goldwater Republicans as contrasted to Nixonian Republicans is their reputation as racists actually earned over the matter of Affirmative Action? After all, it was Nixon who signed the executive order and launched 1000 economic ships. Goldwater's objection, if Mr. Thacker is to be believed, was strictly Libertarian and made for a convenient excuse for Segregationists to side with him against the Act of 64, but not for the same reasons.

This distinction is very important as far as I'm concerned. I'll be looking for further confirmation of it as items float by me.

Posted by mbowen at 09:20 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

September 08, 2004


I find myself astonished by the magnitude of the Ossetian crisis, and I don't like to be. Yet I am not familiar with the history of armed conflict which must inform military commanders; surely there must be some.

Are there not massacres of this sort throughout history? Where? When?

As I listened to the latest report the other day, the BBC reporter suggested that there were about 700 hostages, double the original number reported. Now I am hearing the number was around 1200 and the Russian news deliberately deflated the number. Now there are some 300 plus dead, half children and another 450 hospitalized and 200 missing. This is the sort of madness that can inspire generations of hatred. What to do?

It seems to me that the Russian people must be appeased. Now is the time for grand gestures. I'm never going to be Putin, but if I were, I would do two very large things. I would destroy a city and I would offer unconditional independence. I hesitate to even say.. this is the level of atrocity that make people crazy. I'm glad I'm not Putin.

Posted by mbowen at 06:49 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Posted by mbowen at 08:50 AM | TrackBack

Richard Forno

Richard Forno is the coauthor of Incident Response (O'Reilly) and The Art of Information Warfare (Universal). He helped to establish the first incident response team for the U.S. House of Representatives, and is the former Chief Security Officer at Network Solutions. Richard is currently writing and consulting in the Washington, DC area.

Keep this man's name in mind when you start hearing discussions on security. I'm thinking these days of the amateur CT person who helped the FBI nail the latest domestic traitor to AQ.

Here's a few of Forno's wise words:

Let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment and see what the real consequences of a cyber-terror attack would be. Could someone shut down part of a power grid or water system via a remote dial-up connection? Perhaps, but the same could be accomplished if someone managed to gain physical access to such facilities to throw a few switches and turn a few knobs. Besides, we’ve proven during countless natural weather disasters that we can live without electricity for short periods of time. Should critical networks be compromised, we can still pay for groceries with cash.

Even if any of these scenarios were realized, life might be a bit inconvenient or slower than normal at times, but we will still be alive, and buildings won’t have toppled. Life will continue to go on, and soon return to normal, likely more quickly than if recovering from a physical type of terror attack. A potential compromise of the air traffic control system doesn’t necessarily mean that planes will start falling from the sky: airplanes have arcane backup systems known as “pilots” and “co-pilots” who can fly and land them safely.

I've recently signed up to Cryptogram and started perusing back issues. Great stuff. If you don't know Bruce Schneier, you should.

Posted by mbowen at 06:21 AM | TrackBack

September 07, 2004

The Ownership Society

I just gave a skeptical once-over to David Boaz' essay on 'The Ownership Society'. I don't buy it. (heh)

I think everyone was being more realistic when they were talking about 'The Investor Class'. In fact, I think this is fairly weak logic of the investor class trying to persuade more people to get in the game, and having done that proclaiming an ownership society. I can't guess the ulterior motives of the proponents of the this new idea, but there were two other terms that set me in my direction on this. They are 'consumers' and 'wage-earners'. That's what most of us are and that our economy works primarily to our benefit as such is what we ought to focus on - and keep it that way.

There are many hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans in the investor class. A good portion of them make money simply through being smart about money. The best of them are pillars of our society - they are the wealthy that can make some of us rich. But there's only so much of that talent and money going around. The essence of free market capitalism is that it punishes mistakes by the wealthy as well as the poor. There will always only be a transitory few at the top of the pile. The answer to the question "If you're so smart, how come you're not rich?" is that markets are fickle and timing is everything. You've got to make the right move at the right time for investments to payoff, and then you start all over again. The only truly safe place to hide money away from the angels and demons of the market is in government securities. Keep that in mind.

When I was a kid, my parents didn't have credit cards. In fact, most Americans didn't have any line of credit with their banks. Only the rich had those kinds of instruments, and they weren't even done with cards, but with personal contact with bankers. That was stuff that the Beverly Hillbillies did. They called up Mr. Drysdale and make him do something clever with their money. The rest of us just saved and waited. That changed around the time Hank Aaron hit #715. Do you remember the famous video clip? There was a big Bankamericard billboard on the back fence of the Fulton County Stadium. Today, lots of consumers and wage-earners have lines of credit, most of us have done well playing rich with all these financial instruments, 401Ks, Roth IRAs, Term Life Insurance, Flex Benefit Health Plans, Mutual Funds, Second Trust Deeds. Every few years there are more of these tricky instruments afforded to the public. Do you have an accountant and a tax attorney? I do. This stuff ain't easy, it's damned difficult. Keep that in mind.

No matter how many copies of Microsoft Money and Quicken are sold, we are never going to turn our consumers and wage-owners into miniature capitalists. Nor should we try. I'm in a business where a significant percentage of the workers are independent contractors and small business owners. We're sorta like tradesmen and sorta like professionals. That's difficult too - we sink or swim not only for knowing the trade but running the business. Gnarly buggers like me enjoy the challenge, but it's not for everyone. These days I have to think about how to pay mortgages, payoff tax debt, put kids through school, plan for retirement, value the business, pay employees, get investors, all kinds of crap. Some days I'd rather be a ski instructor.

But there is an attraction to living la vida rica. We'd all like to retire early and have mojitos brought to our cabana. We'd all like our investments to remain safe and lucrative, flash our cards and make jokes about how much everything costs and what's priceless. It ain't gonna happen. Don't forget the dark side. Layoffs are just the tip of the iceberg of financial disasters that await capitalists. Consumers and wage-earners have it cushy, relatively speaking. The grandmother who loses her pension has our sympathy. The businessman who loses his bond rating drinks alone. Playing rich may be attractive, but holding on to your money is no joke. There are only a few ways to lose fifty cents, there are a million ways to lose a million dollars. Just ask anyone what they'd do with a million dollars.

There is a fundamental capitalist slant in angling towards an ownership society. But how it actually would play out in terms of class is what I'd be more interested to know. Sure owners are going to be a lot more fussy over their money than those who have it taken care of. Sure things will be more efficient when more people maximize. When you're a wage-earner, you worry about whether you're going to get a 3% or a 5% raise. But you don't worry about whether the next paycheck is going to be there. What would it do to our society if we converted all of the union employees into independent contractors? It would be like that Lending Tree commercial where all the bankers fill up your living room - suddenly a lot of self-important people like middle managers would become commodified headhunters. Not only that we'd start dealing with business cycles and volatility that we don't have now because of the stability inherent in the premises of wages and salaries. The ravages of capitalism will destroy pikers trying to keep up, just like seconds on the house, 28% credit cards and internet stocks. Everybody can't do this, and the more who try, the more it sucks the profit away from those who can. That's what commodification does.

We can invent new classes of 'investors' and 'owners' from now until doomsday. And we will. But we're not going to transform a society of people who can barely manage a 1040 form into junior capitalists. The door should be open and remain open. Let's hear it for the woman who jumps ship mid-career and for the love of sewing opens her own dress shop. Keep those SBA loans coming. But let's not pretend that many more millions of Americans who want to play rich can manage their own investment portfolios out among the expert investor class. Who do you take us for Motley Fools?

When I used to watch Louis Rukeyeser every week and Squawk Box every morning I watched lifetime investors scratch their heads in wonder about which way certain stocks would go. I've day-traded, channeled, optioned and hedged. I've won and lost big time. Government securities (and Inktomi) saved my bacon. Like a lot of relatively new investors I thought I knew more than I knew. In the end I wound up losing because even though our broker was a personal friend, he didn't have time for us little people. When it comes to investment brokerage, if you're not humping 6 figures, you're insignificant. Even then, you're small fry. Try to get in the first class of any mutual fund - if they didn't call you, you're too late, and beware of the ones they do call you for. Now I exaggerate because I lost somewhere around six figures all told between 94 and 2000. I'm over it, but lucky to still be married (she's a long term investor).

If Social Security is destined to tank, the best thing to do is stop new investment now. We cannot let it fail just like any other security. This ownership society rhetoric hides the fact that capitalists lose huge amounts of money, but depend on the government bedrock as a hedge. If that government hedge of Social Security fails, it will be no comfort to those sorry investors that they are now part of an 'ownership society'. They are consumers and wage-earners and cannot be instantly converted into capitalists.

Somewhere, somehow the full faith and credit of the United States, the most powerful nation on the planet, needs to mean something real to American consumers and wage-earners. We don't owe anyone any right to retire with ease. Investment is a tricky business. But we do need to convert those pensions into as safe an investment as possible as was promised in the prospectus. And if we must, we can say that's just not available any longer and new kids have to swim with the sharks. But let's not think that the virtues of capitalism are going to accrue to Joe Average when it comes to some arbitrary privatization of Social Security.

I have a tough time believing that the heavy hitters of the investment class will be denied the hedge of government backed securities. In fact, I believe they have first shot and that the pool is too small for them and Social Security. Somebody needs to tell Social Security pensioners just what class they belong to.

Posted by mbowen at 08:52 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

The Death of the Digital Divide

Ha ha ha I spit on the grave of the Digital Divide, and I declare victory for me and people like me.

13 years ago I famously (for me anyway) went to a black academic conference at Harvard and sat amongst the elite including Robin DG Kelley, Lani Guinier, Ella Bell, and others semi-forgetable in crap-talking retrospect. I made myself as loud as possible in proclaiming the future of the internet in reaching out to the blessed Community the Left Professoriate keeps ranting about. I explained to them that it could disintermediate those monstrous institutions they kept railing on about and allow them to speak directly to the People.

Naturally, they figured I was crazy. The People, quoth they, don't have computers. It is an elitist tool.

Chief among my targets was my intellectual hero of the times, Cornel West. I accosted him on several occasions in NY and Boston. Professor West employed a secretary to print his emails. I couldn't believe it. I have come to expect and have yet to be dissuaded from the conclusion that it lies directly against the interests of the Professoriate to publish on the Internet. It doesn't pay. It competes with their lucrative positions within the academy. Why give away for free that which you get paid to talk about within the hallowed halls? I have come to accept this rationale as perfectly acceptable and I probably won't accept any other. It's all about the benjamins, baby.

At any rate, all these lefties spewed back Digital Divide rhetoric a year after they figured out what I was talking about. (I shudder to think how many scones were consumed during those seminars.) And from there it was perfectly understandable how they ganged up to concoct all manners of arcane policy fodder to insure that there were 'offramps' from the 'information superhighway' that went to the ghetto. Meanwhile, normal people bought modems from Best Buy.

The beginning of the end was the long in the making as Moore's Law continued its inexorable influence on the macroeconomics of the industry. But the coup de grace arrived in the person of Marc John Jefferies, cute black kid spokesman for PeoplePC.

Over here, it's been a slow year for digital divide issues for left wonks. In fact it has been a total bust. There is no successful policy against the digital divide. It was solved by the economics of the PC industry, whose aim was to sell as many PCs as possible and by the ISP industry whose aim was to connect as many people as possible to the Internet. There was never a regulatory parallel to a 'universal dial tone' for internet access; it was never needed. Here's an interesting paper whose abstract indicates agreement with me.

UPDATE: NIH is battling for free information.

Aside from my gripes with black left professors, there is an interesting new twist that I am considering. I'm sure some clever folks will come up with a new name for it, but it is an extension of something I noticed then as now. Back in the day, when one perused the hand-countable links to black websites and black interest on the world wide web, you could be sure to find a service called 'Fedix/Molis' somewhere near the top. I had not heard of it before and have done nothing with it since. But all of the experts I spoke to back in the early 90s were fairly unanimous that this was the most important resource for blacks on the 'information superhighway'. When brought up in the context of direct connections to the Community, many thoughtfully observed that the mere existence of a very easy way (the Internet) to get access to federal databases would not make ghetto dwellers more inclined to use it.

And so as people bemoaned the relative paucity of (poor, ghetto) African Americans online as compared to whites (ignoring all of us middle class college educated blacks who had been online for years) there were two unmentioned elephants in the corner. The first was that many black academics and politicos invested in the myth of the Digital Divide had to support the notion that computer networks were elitist tools dominated by (evil) white males and therefore territory too unsafe for the (theoretically) average black. The second, closely related, and unmentioned fact was that there was no demand in that ghetto demographic. I've gone back and forth over the role of underground hiphop as an intellectual backchannel for black youth. In the end, I don't buy it. Neither did I ever buy the Source magazine, so what do I know?

Bottom line was there were all kinds of lame excuses for talking about (poor, ghetto) blackfolks not being on the net. My attitude? The internet is for me and people like me, the rest of y'all can take the bus. Today, I think there's a lot more people like me than those suffering the symptoms predicted by the socialist theories. Ordinary people buy computers and internet access with credit cards. Simple.

But here's the twist which is a reflection of something I heard in a movie last night. The flick was 'Hidalgo', a tawdry excess of high-handed multicultural reverse bashing set in the 19th century. But the sensitive new-age half-breed cowboy did lay out a zinger halfway through this snorer. A sheik asked whether that was a real Colt revolver on his waist. Quoth the cowboy, "God didn't make all men equal; Mr. Colt did."

Despite the fact that we are not going to be an information economy so long as people use trucks to get food to other people, there is a definite advantage that computers can provide which is parallel to that offered by Mr. Colt. But not everyone in the Old West was ready, willing or able to learn how to shoot. And certainly as Hidalgo's portrayal of Wounded Knee reminds us, not everyone with a gun is entirely wise. But there's no discounting what the right tool in the right hands can do. It takes us back to demand.

Today we all have , or at least we could all have, computers as powerful as those owned by the most powerful corporations of a dozen years ago when this digital divide theory began. Who knows when it will plateau? Already multiprocessor super computers are being offered for sale to individuals. But we'll always have the same problem with people. The goods will be right in front of them and they will fail to grasp. They will invent excuses to remain ignorant. I'm never going to call that a black problem no matter how many (poor, ghetto) blackfolks or (left, professorial) blackfolks it applies to. I'll resist such racial theories because I know better.

But I will look out for myself and people like me. We eventually figure things out.

Posted by mbowen at 02:21 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

September 06, 2004


Over at Vision Circle, I'm uploading several hefty documents about race that I collected when that was part of my Boohabian focus. One of them was part of the outputs of President Bill Clinton's Initiative on Race, which I imagine became part of the legacy Democrats use to demonstrate how much more cool they are to blackfolks. I find that an admirable but dubious claim, but not for lack of trying. Still, I wonder if anyone anywhere on the planet actually took such deeds to task. Since I'm willing to bet that I'm the only race geek who bothered to download any such artifacts I find it hard to believe that anyone is acting on them in a constructive way today. But I'd like to be proven wrong.

Be that as it may, in the spirit of 'what have you done for me lately' I ask the question what has the Republican Party undone for blackfolks lately. I suspect that people will go all the way to Iraq looking for an answer, if they don't get caught up in Haiti first, but that they will find little that Clinton has done that Bush has undone.

Since I'm not studying race relations I leave that question open to anyone who is willing to bring forth some adequate proofs, and I provide the docs. There will be more to come at Vision Circle, so keep your eyes peeled.

Posted by mbowen at 05:17 PM | TrackBack


Somewhere in the middle of watching 'Hero', I wondered if I might not be living in the Old Country.

What is coming out of China has impressed me over the past few years as being a kind of fundamental expression of humanity. I see Chinese people as the emptiest of humans, completely without affect, translucent even, such that whatever their character is, it shines through completely. Whatever their skill, their ailment, their vice, their sorrow it is that which they are and nothing more. It is only through their interaction with each other that I percieve this. Somehow they become complicated when dealing with me or other non-Chinese. But to themselves, the Chinese reveal.

I am wanting to say that the Chinese in this way have no eternal soul. If you are a farmer that is all you are. The only interest anyone or anything can have in you lies in your ability to farm. If you are a warrior, it is the fight in you that is beheld and nothing else. It is this notion that carries the weight of tragedy in the film Hero - an assassin who seeks the wisdom of the world to assist in his perfection as an assassin ultimately makes him something else, and as soon as this happens, he must die.

Many people will tell you how fabulously beautiful this film is. But I found it transcendant, in the way special American films must be to those who dreamed of America when they lived in their old countries. These days as I purchase DVDs in search of tales worth owning, I am drawn to the performances of Shakespeare's history plays. But in the American cinema I have yet to find a thread as noble. Yet with Iron Monkey, Crouching Tiger and now Hero I find three excellent examples in Chinese, and so they take the fore. Perhaps it is unreasonable at this moment in history to expect much else. Lessons in English might be those which warn against the dissolution of decline, perhaps we should look to Thackeray. But for now it is that spirit churning in the blank slate of the Chinese body that fascinates.

Hero says so much without words. I have not seen such breathtakingly brilliant color in filmmaking since 'The Cell' and 'What Dreams May Come'. Yet as ugly as the poisoned minds of those films were, even the bad guys in 'Hero' remained, well, heroic.

Just last night, several days after my viewing of Hero, I watched Kill Bill 2. That film says so much about our capacity for deciept and our vulgarity. There is nothing quite like the metaphor of a one-eyed woman who comes with a million dollars and a poisonous snake to ransom a stolen Asian sword from a drunk killer who lives in a trailer at the edge of a desert. The only pure emotions are avarice and revenge. And next to that was 'Love Actually' whose distorted emotions all going by the name of 'love' were a hash of confusion and cowardice. Granted, I fell asleep before the jaded old rockstar's record reached the top of the charts but a saw no true love worth consummating in that motley bunch. Nothing that compares to that exemplified in Hero.

I don't like to dog America for what it lacks. Instead I prefer to inoculate my family and Recover that of lasting values. One would think that artists would be a bit more bold. Even if I can't be forgiven for not knowing where to look in American film, the fact that it's hard to find speaks loudly enough to this problem. We should be thankful for those few who made it their priority to import soul from China.

Posted by mbowen at 03:12 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The Return of GDZ

I hung out with C4 yesterday.

It has been about 7 years since I've seen him. I'm sure we crossed paths one way or two, who knows. Except one Thai dinner when he was feeling out of sorts, there hadn't been much communication between us in a very long time. But that didn't really count because JB wasn't there since '98 when we had just gotten back to LA from the East Coast or 96 when we had the Easter Party in Carson. But yesterday was a righteous reunion. I know this is true because he brought out the GDZ flag.

The last time I saw the flag had to be somewhere back in 89 or 90 when we had our notorious beach parties down in Hermosa. There's not much I can do after all these years to evoke the spirit, and in some ways it's not important that I do. I can just tell you that a very cool network of very cool people wove in and out of our sphere, and it was the place to be.

After the BBQ was consumed, we reflected back on those days amid huge screaming fits of laughter. It was a very easy afternoon and it did a lot to remind me of how uptight I used to be. Very. The best thing about having friends is that they can see through you, and you know it. I enjoy being translucent around these guys, and I haven't felt that way in a while.

I discovered more long lost links to my young adulthood and childhood hanging out there. I remember that JB's folks and my folks grew up together in New Haven, many of them going to Hillhouse or working for Winchester. It turns out that one of JB's best college buds and I knew each other since we were babies - our dads were frat brothers. Still I haven't seen him since highschool; he's in San Diego now. We marvelled at the people we knew in common, but then again it shouldn't be a surprise. We were the People of the Dons. In fact, that's where C4's new pad is: 90043, yet another Geographically Desireable Zipcode. C4, his wife and baby are definitely Money and Brains, although most of the joint is American Dreams in that neck of the zip.

I'm coming back into the circle and it feels like home. Even though we stop and look at our guts and our kids running around in momentary disbelief, it's still us and we're here. We survived and did OK for ourselves. So I'm doing some serious recovery on this as well. Maybe I'll put together a private portal, because what gets us perturbed is how we 'fall off the map'. Even with C4's prodigious memory for all kinds of stories about us, we lose touch. I know it's been too long for me.

Posted by mbowen at 01:12 PM | TrackBack

The Hook

Well, it's clear that we have the critical mass to create the black hole even though some stars decided to stay in their own orbits, but from all sorts of matter, this thing will be born.

Discussions are going further and we'll have something nice before the end of the year. It promise to be fabulous and fascinating.

I am on the hook to make that work, of course. And I am off the hook for my blog hiatus. But that makes me on the hook for writing more blog stuff whereas my mind has been elsewhere.

The hook of the new site has not yet been decided by the adhoc blackhole planning committee, but I have a lot of confidence given the quality of ideas currently spewing that it will be decidedly compelling. I think it will live up to its potential, which is all one can ask.

Stay tuned.

Posted by mbowen at 12:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 03, 2004

The Black Hole

I am not going to post another entry on Cobb until 20 black bloggers agree to start a singularity in the blogospheric universe. I have been provoked, and I can find no good reason not to have a black group blog that will climb into the top of the Ecosphere. Let's see if the blogosphere thinks we're just playful primates.


Posted by mbowen at 11:24 AM | Comments (40) | TrackBack

GMail Monopoly

Everybody I know online already has GMail. And I've already heard from 4 of them complaining that GMail is telling us all to tell 6 friends. We travel in small circles.

Posted by mbowen at 09:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Hatred Continues

Those who hate Microsoft use Linux.
Those who love UNIX use BSD.

-- Anonymous

I can tell that the headaches are about to start. I can feel a new brace of wind from the ever squabbling factions in the mind-numbingly tedious OS Wars. In today's installment, the open sourcers are crowing that some new winky blinky has been dropped from a future release of Longhorn, an MS OS version that's somewhere on the horizon to be released in the next year or two. Not only that, there's scoffing about XP's new Service Pack and bragging about Apples new iMac.

As the bored chicken said, cockadoodle-whatever. Is there anything really new in computing?

Posted by mbowen at 08:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


I guess that I'm going to break my promise and actually say what I think about this Esmay vs Willis thing. I don't want to say that I'm defending Dean, because I'm really trying not to care. But I have been down this road with him before - I've heard the hardtime Chicago story. I understand where he's coming from, and this is what it sounds like to me.

Dean is kind of coming at blackfolks right now with a straight gangsta rap attitude, but before he did that, he was minding what he thought was his own business. He was talking on his website to his people and saying some crazy shit about race, trying to get a rise out of them. Then a lot of people called him on it. The ways he responded reminded me of black street performers at Venice Beach trying to get money out of white gawkers:

"Stop looking at me funny - this is just entertainment. You got to pay me some respect as an entertainer. If it wasn't for this job I'd be robbing you, be glad I'm an entertainer - but I'm letting you know the deal. I'm keepin' it real." He's smiling when he says it, but people are clutching their purses.

Like the gangsta rapper who is representing thug life, Dean cannot abide people who are genuinely offended by his message. If they can't take the message, how the hell could they deal with the reality behind the message? He's right.

Like the gangsta rapper who is representing thug life, Dean is feels he has a right to artistic license and people shouldn't mistake him for the real thug. He comes from a place where thugs rule and he turned away from that so he's really not a thug. He's wrong.

The substance of this debate has been long lost in everybody's willingness to say what it means or doesn't mean in the context of our society. I'm as guilty as anyone pointing fingers. Hell, I double dipped. This is my second post. But I tell you I don't have any sympathy for all the hurt feelings. This is what happens when you talk about race. And what's more, this is what happens when you only talk about race when it suits you. If you think you can get in and get out of the discussion, if you think it only applies to other people, if you think you can sum it up all in one quick MLK soundbite, this is exactly how you get screwed over. Because when you don't talk about race on the regular, you forget how deep it goes. You find yourself talking about your dying grandmother, and experiences that formed you when you were a kid. You start talking about violence and hatred - and you sorta know it, and then you find yourself feeling it.

I've been retired from talking about race for a while. I had my Vietnam War of race. I signed up for multiple tours of duty. And that's how I felt about it, duty. I don't like to talk about it, that's why I use all these metaphors. But here I am at 30 minutes past midnight writing about it. I am concerned that we have lost our ability to talk about race; that we are at a point of equilibrium at which people don't give a rats ass one way or another. We all know, or think we know enough examples of everything we knew nothing of, and still haven't experienced, to say that it doesn't matter what we think. We can say 'Tiger Woods this' or 'Eminem that' and somehow that proves that we individually don't have to work any harder. We all think we understand quite enough. I know I feel that way.

Perhaps out of a sense of obligation we ought to sacrifice a bit of our pride at being above and beyond this nasty business, and get down and dirty into it. Talking about race is difficult and nobody likes it except maladjusted weirdos. But we even-tempered people, at the horrible life altering risk of being called a name ought to do so. Especially if we consider ourselves thoughtful.

Posted by mbowen at 12:39 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

September 02, 2004

Annoying Stupidity About Race

I sure am glad that I know a few things, because if I didn't, I'd probably be symbolizing up a storm about a sissyfight between Oliver Willis and Dean Esmay.

As far as I can see, it got started because Dean dared to ask whitefolks if they found blackfolks annoying, which is of course an annoying question in and of itself. But it's also a somewhat clever way of getting people to air their frustrations about an annoying topic that a lot of people are mad about because they can't find much neutral ground.

As you might imagine. This little dustup has caused a small black hole in the blogosphere and attracted all kinds of extraneous junk from the surrounding space-time continuum. I found it while pissing on P6 who was passing comments about something or other I've already forgotten about. See - even thinking about this is making me stupid.

Oh wait. Heres the trick. Since Dean is Repub and Oliver is Donkey, the spew from this catfight had to spill over into why black conservatives and Republicans are stupid, why Dave Chappelle isn't funny, why Harold Ford is a 'pampered little bitch', and why Zell Miller is a racist. That's why this annoying conversation went over into stupidity. Chappelle is hilarious, Miller is a genuine ass-kicker without a dishonest bone, Ford is uppity and classy like me and black conservatives are [generally] brilliant. Plus, even a homeboy from my hometown dissed my Brotherhood mate LaShawn as not representative of most blackfolks. (Duh, she has a blog!).

So I'll view this as an opportunity to attract attention to myself because I am above all the nonsense and have the proper perspective on racism. This is most clearly an episode of Class Three. (Namecalling & disrespect). But it also illustrates how a little racial tension goes a long way in political discussions, even when they descend into utter sputtering madness. Maybe I'll keep the black modifyer on Republican for 18 months instead of just 12.

My trackback exerpt (An honest to God black Republican defends Dean Esmay's annoying question.) is a lie, because I don't think Dean's question is particularly useful, insightful or pertinent to any issues of concern other than generating some more traffic among people who think they know everything about race, blackfolks or conservatives. I am happy to have such individuals frequent Cobb, even if by accident or trackback trolling.

I will say this of Dean Esmay though. He's not trying to be anything he ain't and he steps up and says what he means. That's why the blogosphere remains interesting, and at turns annoying.

Posted by mbowen at 08:40 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Real Black Republicans

This is tiring, but I'm going to post it anyway. I will say that in about 12 months I'm going to stop being a black Republican and just become a Republican. I've got about a year's more BS to deal with as a Sophomore and then I'm going to graduate early. I still have yet to make any T-shirts, but that's coming too.

My boy Joe Phillips is doing fine. It's nice to see him mentioned. Meanwhile, lazy editors of presumptuous publications mischaracterize what's real about black Republicans. I'm starting to see why Thomas Sowell spends so much ink. It really is a fight over who owns the race. But as I said, I'm not long for this game. I say that as a [Black] computer scientist. Watch my race disappear and then show up stunningly.

Meanwhile to the text:

The percentage of black Republican national convention delegates grew from
10 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2004, he said. Black Republicans hold
office in 22 or 23 states across the country, Watts said.

The former college football star called on the party activists in the room
to support black Republican candidates financially and to spread the
message themselves of how the Republican Party better matches blacks'
values. Bush-Cheney campaign staffers and celebrities, such as former
"Cosby Show" actor and Republican Joe Phillips, are overwhelmed by
invitations to speak, Watts said.

"We don't have enough time to cover the requests that we have," Watts
said. "I am appreciative of all the efforts that all of you make."

I'll be getting in touch with these guys in California in due time. Meanwhile here's the full text of the article reprinted without permission for discusssion and review.

Lonely days are over, black Republicans say

12:35 AM PDT on Thursday, September 2, 2004

MICHELLE DeARMOND / The Press-Enterprise

NEW YORK - Standing before a packed ballroom of fellow black Republicans
on Wednesday, Ohio's lieutenant governor told the story of a reporter who
half-jokingly asked this week if all the black members of the GOP could
fit in one elevator.

Looking around the standing-room-only crowd in The Waldorf-Astoria, Lt.
Gov. Jennette Bradley didn't need to tell the audience how she replied.

"We do not have to apologize for being Republican," she told the crowd.
President Bush "does have support within the African-American community."

Bradley laughed about the episode, noting this Republican National
Convention is her fourth as a delegate, and she's been serving as the
country's first black female lieutenant governor since January 2003.
Still, the anecdote touched a chord of frustration with many at the
weeklong event in New York.

"The media blacks out what we do, and we literally have to beg the media
to come cover us," said Roxanne Petteway, a Temecula Republican on the
African-American Coalition for the Bush-Cheney campaign. "They believe the
lie that we can all fit into an elevator."

Hundreds at Event

A few hundred black Republicans and a handful of reporters attended the
two-hour affair at the swanky Manhattan hotel, where several high-profile
black Republicans spoke. Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., drew murmurs of "amen"
and enthusiastic head nods as he revved up the crowd, offering statistics
to back up his point that the involvement of blacks within the party is

The percentage of black Republican national convention delegates grew from
10 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2004, he said. Black Republicans hold
office in 22 or 23 states across the country, Watts said.

The former college football star called on the party activists in the room
to support black Republican candidates financially and to spread the
message themselves of how the Republican Party better matches blacks'
values. Bush-Cheney campaign staffers and celebrities, such as former
"Cosby Show" actor and Republican Joe Phillips, are overwhelmed by
invitations to speak, Watts said.

"We don't have enough time to cover the requests that we have," Watts
said. "I am appreciative of all the efforts that all of you make."

Democratic Doubts

The mayor of Palm Springs, a black Democrat who attended that party's
convention last month in Boston, said if the GOP really best suited
blacks, the membership would naturally reflect it. Speeches like those
made Wednesday disprove the Republicans' point, he said.

"The very fact that they have to go out and do that says that isn't true,"
Ron Oden said in a telephone interview from the desert. "There would be a
natural gravitation (to the GOP) if that were true."

Petteway and others argue that the GOP has historically been better for
blacks, and it's time for it to come "back to its roots." Some people just
don't know the facts, she said. Oden disagreed.

"If they're looking at who was president when slavery was abolished,
perhaps, but the thing is that is not the Republican Party of today," he
said of President Abraham Lincoln, who oversaw the abolition of slavery.
"The fact is that we don't have to worry about recruiting

Black membership in the GOP has been growing for awhile, Petteway said,
but people just haven't heard about it. Black Republican candidates and
officeholders from Utah to Maine attended Wednesday's meeting, standing to
tell of their successes in the ballroom where marble columns flanked the
speakers at one end and a chandelier hung overhead.

State GOP Support

In California, the state Republican Party has thrown money behind the
California Black Republican Council and has backed efforts to boost black
Republican activism in urban areas, Petteway said. Places such as
South-Central Los Angeles historically have been such Democratic
strongholds that the GOP often doesn't even run candidates there.

The California Black Republican Council also has opened several new
chapters in recent months, Petteway said. The council has chapters in
Riverside and San Bernardino counties. For Damon Alexander with the San
Bernardino chapter, spreading the word about the party is something he
does without pressure. He simply outlines the GOP's positions and asks
people to see which lines up with their own beliefs, he said. "Don't look
at the elephant or the donkey," he said. "I let them make up their own

Reach Michelle DeArmond at (951) 368-9441 or

Posted by mbowen at 05:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Taking Money From White People

P6 has a snarky report on Project 21's recent interview on C-SPAN.

He suggests that blacks are not led astray, hoodwinked or bamboozled by white liberal politics. That is putatively because political organizations like the NAACP are directed by blacks. So he finds it credible when Mfume suggests that Project 21 is a make believe black organization. Why? Because it takes money from white people.

I'm really not in the mood to return snark for snark. But I wonder how it is that any black people could possibly be possesed of their own minds if they are willing to accept assistance from whites. I wonder if Kwesi knows whether or not the pipes that bring water into his house were laid by blacks or whites. Because if he has been drinking white water for all of these years, I don't know that we can trust his opinion, as a black man.

By the way, wasn't there some white guy who went by the name of Springarn? I heard he had something to do with the NAACP. No maybe my memory is bad. Maybe it was Moskowitz or something like that. Nah. Couldn't be.

Posted by mbowen at 04:11 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Cornel West: A Mouthful

George, as usual is looking out for my interests and sends me West's intellectual PR for his next book 'Democracy Matters'. An exerpt of West-speak:

Free-market fundamentalism—just as dangerous as the religious fundamentalisms of our day—trivializes the concern for public interest. The overwhelming power and influence of plutocrats and oligarchs in the economy put fear and insecurity in the hearts of anxiety-ridden workers and render money-driven, poll-obsessed elected officials deferential to corporate goals of profit, often at the cost of the common good. This illicit marriage of corporate and political elites—so blatant and flagrant in our time—not only undermines the trust of informed citizens in those who rule over them. It also promotes the pervasive sleepwalking of the populace, who see that the false prophets are handsomely rewarded with money, status, and access to more power. This profit-driven vision is sucking the democratic life out of American society.

It's amazing. I'm starting to see through Cornel West. 10 years is a long time.

I think his assumptions about the responsibilities of the market are misplaced as well, exactly where the DOJ is failing us. He should be watching the difference between people like Rudy Giuliani who come from the prosecutorial side law and order guys who get government power and Michael Bloomberg, who comes from the corporate side to get government power.

You can depend on the former to exercise toughness wrt law and order and are not going to be punked by corporate elites. Eliot Spitzer is a good example. You can depend on the latter to make governement actually more efficient, effective and responsible to the public. Although somebody needs to follow up on Bloomberg's initiative to have a centralized call center to handle all complaints of New Yorkers.

None of these are democratic in the way I think West wants to see democracy, which is more of a call of social justice in all things which depends too much on outsized symbolism for my taste. Enron is no more. Plus it took out Arthur Andersen. You cannot think of a more incredible story of justice, and yet West would harp on that as exemplifying what's wrong. He simply has no respect for the intelligence and probity of investors, nor the flatly undemocratic prosecutorial powers of the DOJ. And he doesn't seem to give organizations like FASB the time of day but rather lumps them indistinguished as agents of 'market fundamentalists'. He simply doesnt' bother to give any value to the elements of trust that businessmen must establish one to the other, nor the institutions that make this possible.

In the end, his noises about King, Coltrane, Mobley and Douglass are non-sequiturs, and I think he's bitten off more than he can chew as he talks about empire and geopolitics. But then so do we all.

I would like to send West on a mission to that great creator of profits: Johnson & Johnson and see how well his rhetoric stands up to reality. The fact of the matter is most of the largest corporations who are the most influential in our society operate in relatively thin profit margins. And yet like moths to a flame, or perhaps deer in the headlights, we find Leftists completely overwhelmed by two words 'corporate profits'. They cannot fathom how it motivates people in any but corrupt ways. I daresay it is because of their complete lack of experience and understanding of how small folks become big folks and how 30% profit margins on 10 million is a completely different animal than 3% margins on 100 million.

Maybe we expect too much of them.

Posted by mbowen at 03:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Kobe Be Free!

I'm 14 hours behind the facts on this. But the case has been dropped against Kobe Bryant. I'm stunned, surprised and glad that Bryant didn't go down in flames. I had already written him off, not so much as a predator, but as an idiot and a soon-to-be has-been. It appears that the Lakers have a future after all. Yay LA.

While we're doing the black man proxy thing, let me say for the record that if Michael Jackson get's off, I think that would be less of a happy day. There's nothing Michael Jackson can do for me but fade away more gracefully. He's definitely a has-been, and I have no sympathy for him at all.

Posted by mbowen at 01:30 PM | TrackBack

Captain Blackman

Ever since I read Captain Blackman by John A. Williams back in the 80s, I knew not to take any guff about African Americans not being patriotic. In fact, while I was in college, I had to work hard at keeping my own dream alive in order not to be seduced by the real leadership opportunities of the armed forces. Back then, my promised land was Corporate America. I know better now, but that doesn't change the fact that the military is a great opportunity for millions of Americans.

Now, check out this military acadamy in St. Paul. I have a feeling something incredible is under way. I wonder what history we don't know about blacks coming to serve as officers from our traditional universities. It would be interesting research.

I hope that the Charles Young is successful. I have every reason to think it will be. There's a big discussion of this over at Joanne Jacobs' blog.

Posted by mbowen at 12:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Building Defensive Weapons

The other day a specialist was on NPR bemoaning the lack of organization in the Department of Homeland Security. I have my biases.

I think that, depeding on your defintion of 'win', we can win the WoT. If the goal of terror is to terrorize, then we must refuse to be terrorized. That starts with reducing the hyperbole associated with manic rhetoric about how shoddy DHS is. The fact of the matter is that we have had no significant events of terrorism since three years ago. We must be doing something right. But let's dig deeper.

It has been said that mechanical engineers build weapons and civil engineers build targets. What are the targets of terrorism and what are the defensive weapons we can build? I hear grousing about the lack of sophisticated airline security with regard to the number of bags that are x-rayed and scanned. Some context should be drawn as to whether this legitimate complaint has merit in perspective.

I come at it this way. AQ had a number of years to plan the plane hijackings. It involved senior planners and fairly large cells. Let us assume that this was their Pearl Harbor. They will never again be able to pull off a stunt of this magnitude unless we are totally inept. Secondly, we have captured or killed most of the senior leadership. We have attrited their ability to create, plan and carry out such massive attacks. We've had two Olympics and two major political conventions without incident. Is it possible that they can no longer plan well enough to take out the biggest targets? Is there no mother of all terrorist acts in the works? I think there aren't quite enough masterminds remaining to pull it off, and we've demonstrated our willingness to run our military through two countries making sure.

On the other hand, there are baby Bin Ladens with one and two, perhaps three years of experience. Relatively speaking, these young turks will be amateur terrorists. What do amatuer terrorists do? That's easy - look to Iraq. They kidnap and behead. They use car and truck bombs. They attacked the UN headquarters in Iraq. They form ragtag militias.

So now we throw in a bit of rhetorical thinking. It seems to me that when one thinks of AQ capability of fielding weapons of mass terror, our attriting ability and record is parallel to that against Saddam Hussein ability to field weapons of mass destruction. Once you start taking out the leaders, you reduce the net ability of the enemy to field sophisticated super weapons. Iraq, after our total domination of it, no longer poses a threat, not for the lack of trying as Baathist and Sadrists prove - but for lack of ability based on our battle of attrition. Understand that it is the ability of AQ to recurit minds like Atta which increases their ability to deploy weapons of mass terror. But men such as Atta are as scarce as weapons scientists. Each officer we take out of AQ, exponentially aids our cause and reduces the net potential of that organization. When we prevail, what will be lef of AQ is a network of suicide bombers and rock throwers. We don't defeat terrorism, we defeat mass terrorism.

What this means for our defense is that here at home we will face, perhaps what Russians face with Chechnya or what Spaniards face with ETA or what Chinese face with Falun Gong or what Israelis face with Hamas: an unending stream of small acts of terrorism. Will America be able to absorb a monthly bus bomb? Hard to say. But the fact that we have no large attacks - nobody taking out the Golden Gate Bridge, nobody cropdusting cities with Anthrax says something.

The expert made a point that I think bears repeating. We don't have enough EMTs. We don't have enough ambulance drivers. We don't have enough firefighters. These are the people who are going to make a difference in dealing with the 3 year old terrorists. But it hasn't come to that even in three years.

I think as we advance most forcefully against the masterminds and the networks of WMD proliferation, we will severely attrit the ability of anyone but state sponsored terrorists to recruit for, plan and carry out acts of mass terrorism. But we'll never stop the molotov cocktails, rock throwers and mad bombers. They can be anywhere, at any time, for any fool reason. But I think the lessons of the Sadrists in Iraq are very instructive, for to carry out a radical jihad, some loud mouths must be heard and some holy order must be established. They are the groups, like Hamas, in the middle. There is where we will watch.

Posted by mbowen at 11:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Posted by mbowen at 08:37 AM | TrackBack

Dorian Gray

The picture of dorian gray
Oscar Wilde: The Portrait of Dorian Gray. You are a
horror novel from the world of dandies, rich
pretty boys, art and aesthetics, and
intellectual debates between ethical people and
decadent pleasure-seekers. You value beauty and
pleasure but realize their dangers, as well.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by mbowen at 08:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 01, 2004

Famous Last Words: AfricaPundit

AfricaPundit has been incactive for several months. As I review my blogroll I found his last post somewhat inspiring. Whenever I see people carrying children it makes me feel good.

I'd say carrying babies piggy-back is probably a reflection of African ideas about proper childrearing. When a mother carries her baby, she is always available to feed, burp, change, or comfort whenever the baby gets whiny. You'd think that all this attention would lead to spoiled children, but everything seems to work out somehow.


Posted by mbowen at 02:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ivan Get Your Dragunov

This is the last straw. Chechan rebels have taken schoolchildren hostage in Ossetia. It would be so hard for me not to go to the army surplus and pick up a sniper rifle if my kid was in that school.

This has got me thinking about what practical kinds of things we ought to be working on with regards to Homeland Security, which is probably a lot simpler than most experts are saying.

Posted by mbowen at 01:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Outward Bound

This week, I am listening to a lot of other people besides myself. That's because right about now I am full of myself. I'm here to tell you that everything is running on all 8 cylinders. The business is growing and the money is flowing. The kids are all getting the right teachers this year (and my first grade daughter is reading at a seventh grade level - yay F7!) and I'm getting up at 6:30 am from now on, even on days when I work from home.

It's at times like these that I circle back and figure out what I'm doing wrong, and it's true that I still have to buy a new KVM for my next (linux) box, sign an NDA and review some code from Latvia, talk to the solar energy guy, continue my market research on the Alameda Corridor, get right with CCR, install more ProClarity, firm up my role in the October deal, finish recovering the files I deleted, find a camping space, rent a minivan, send those training materials, and update the business website, and recalculate my second quarter taxes, BUT
there's so much interesting news going on out there I can't ignore.

This is my curse. Curiosity.

I actually feel guilty for not having been reading Abiola and Drezner until recently. I feel guilty for not writing code to yank econometric data from the web and compiling it for display on my own website. I feel guilty for not having watched Michael Steele speak, even though the stuff at C-Span doesn't work. So for a few days, I'm going to let people tell me what to do. I'm going to relent and be submissive.

I'm going to watch television. I'm going to continue to try Mozilla & Firefox (so far I really see no advantage whatsoever). I'm going to ask harder questions about Wn2k3, which works perfectly, just like XP without the patch. I'm going to do all kinds of things I don't want to do because I didn't think of them first and I'm going to do them grudgingly because I'm usually right anyway. But this is how I learn. I manipulate people into attacking me and I let them win. I give them all the credit and then I integrate the lesson. Either way, my ego is maintained and that's the point isn't it? Go ahead and say no. OK you win. See how it works? Gotcha.

I didn't win the lottery this weekend. But I'm glad I played because it gave me a new reason to like somebody new. And suddenly I came up with a new theory - yesterday at lunchtime to be precise. Since it was Duc who sold me the office pool ticket, I speak to him more often (and he was the reason I made another set of business cards, one type each for my 5 public faces {Dad, Metro, Cobb, Vision, Value}). I found out that his sister is an Oakley manager's dentist and that he can get me Oakley stuff real cheap. And I realized that this is the third Vietnamese guy who has done me some good or potential good in the past 3 months. So I says to myself, 'I like Vietnamese', ever thinking of Tre who introduced me to nukmom 15 years ago. So my theory is that America's pluralism and ethnic diversity gives us constant new reasons to be optimistic about humanity. There's always some people whom you don't know who can surprise you pleasantly and show you something you never knew before.

And as I walked past the Benzos and Bimmers in the 90 degree heat to my Chevy, I wondered what I would drive if I had won the lotto. I absolutely know: A silver BMW M5 with Centerlines, a black Yukon Denali XL with tinted windows and fat mud tires, a black Jaguar XJR with spoke wheels, and a custom black and yellow Ducati Monster. I don't care where in the world I live, as long as the schools are excellent and the broadband is cheap. I have no desire whatsoever to outperform the market, so I'd be happy to live off tax-free strips, just like Greenspan.

OK. That's enough blabber. I have to get onsite and reconcile these transaction counts...

Posted by mbowen at 08:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Kayne West: Whatever To That

Jesus Walks.
Through the Wire.
Overnight Celebrity.
Love You Better.
All Falls Down.

Weird, Wack, Weak. Another waste of time and typical noise. Don't say I never gave you a chance. The last song has some potential, but it's all retread. Am I missing anything?

Posted by mbowen at 07:25 AM | TrackBack

Laughing in Your PJs

Wherever there is suffering, injustice and oppression, America will
show up six months late, and bomb the country next to
where it's happening.

-- PJ ORourke

ORourke is hilarious. I've finally come around to his sensibility. Nothing works. We survive. Have a drink and laugh. You gotta love a guy who can say this of NPR:

"NPR Headline: World to end soon. Poor & minorities hardest hit."

Posted by mbowen at 06:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Kerry's Think Tank

OK somebody help me out here. We know about the PNAC, and true most of us didn't know who they were or what they stood for until after GWB was elected. But who is Kerry's Think Tank? Show me a statement of purpose because the crap at doesn't cut it. There is nowhere near enough detail for a wonk-head like me. So where do I go for the meat?

Posted by mbowen at 12:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack