Category Archives: Society

Legislative Reform, My Way

First, I’d like to say hallelujah to Chicago’s repeal of their idiotic foie gras ban. But if you read the news carefully, you would have picked up on something disturbing and very familiar- that many of the elected officials who originally voted in the ban did not even know that the ban was part of the package they were voting on. That should sound familiar because it is exactly the same sort of thing that allowed the totally B.S. Internet Gambling law to get passed back in 2006, attached to the Port Security Act. Not surprisingly, that legislation is in the process of getting overturned as well, and it can’t come too soon.

So here you have two examples, one at the municipal government level and the other federal, both of which show there is something heinously wrong with how legislation gets passed in this country. I realize that we elect officials and allow them to vote on bills on our behalf, and sometimes they will vote against what we may agree with, and really, I’m fine with that. But what is not ok, is that these officials can be allowed to, or even snookered into, voting on things they have no clue about. The under-the-radar bundling of unrelated legislation into a single bill is something that many others have harped on, so there’s no need for me to beat that particular dead horse. But what I think is also happening, which is equally unacceptable, is that when these guys do in fact know what bill they’re voting on, they have little to no real understanding of the issues on both sides of the aisle. How many of these alderman in Chicago, the ones who knew they were voting on a foie gras ban, really knew any of the arguments for or against the ban? How many do you think know, even today, what gavage is, much less the facts surrounding it? This kind of ignorant voting should simply not be allowed. And you know what? I don’t think it would be that difficult to fix the system.

Considering the vast amounts of wasted money in government at all levels, why not spend some money where it would make a real difference in the legislative process? I propose that every bill up for vote be accompanied by a mandatory test designed to prove that the legislator has at least a minimum required level of understanding of the major arguments for and against the bill. This should be handled by an independent group that does nothing other than researching each issue, and creating and administering the tests. I’m agnostic as to whether this is done by an independent government agency or farmed out to the private sector. But the main thing is that passing the test would be mandatory before being allowed to participate in the vote. Yes it would cost money to do this, but if this forces legislators to raise their level of understanding on the issues at hand, wouldn’t it be worth the expense? Wouldn’t it raise the level of public confidence, not only in our elected officials, but in the system itself? What is that worth? In addition, if it helps prevent the passing of idiotic laws that will only waste more government resources during the inevitable repeal process, there’s some cost savings realized there as well.

Since some legislators will inevitably fail the occasional test but should still be granted their right to vote, we would allow them to re-test as many times as it takes to pass. However, their test scores would be part of the public record. That gives the legislators a big incentive to bone up on their understanding of the issues going into the process or else suffer the ignominy of a testing history that looks more like a third grade report card. If they want a chance at getting re-elected they’d better have a decent looking testing record (except of course if they’re in D.C. because apparently they’ll re-elect anyone down there, hahaha).

So there you have it; my proposal for legislative reform. Now how can we make this happen? Oh, right, we need to get it passed as a bill. *sigh*

My Rant on Racism

I originally told myself I wasn’t going to write anything about the whole Tiger Woods “lynching” saga, but I can’t take it anymore. Some of the comments I’ve read and heard are so ignorant, hypocritical and just plain stupid that I just have to rant about it. For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, it was during a recent Golf Channel broadcast that Nick Faldo was saying Tiger Woods is so dominant that the only way the young kids on tour are ever going to overtake him is if there were some way to gang up on him. Kelly Tilghman agreed, jokingly saying yeah they should “lynch him in a back alley”. Racially insensitive choice of words? Yeah, I’ll give you that. But Tiger woods issued a statement saying it was certainly an unfortunate choice of words but he and Kelly are friends and he knows there was no ill intent. End of story. Or so it should have been. But then came the media backlash, wildly overblown as the media is reliably prone to being. Espn.com’s Scoop Jackson was offended because “she didn’t consider the history of African-Americans in this country before speaking”. If he really feels this way, then I am offended by his egomaniacal lack of sense and reason. If I were to apply his same retarded line of thinking, I should declare his comment as racially insensitive since he obviously failed to consider the history of Chinese-American lynchings before writing his article. To lay claim on the injustice of Tilghman’s remark solely for blacks is to be obscenely hypocritical in its disrespect of every other race or group that has been a target of mob lynching in America’s history.

But Scoop’s idiocy and unseemliness doesn’t end there. Tiger Woods’ father Earl once said that he fully believed Tiger would ultimately impact mankind in a transcendental way; that history will remember Tiger as having elevated humanity. And so what does Scoop Jackson think with regards to this Kelly Tilghman situation? Well, he obviously felt that Tiger’s “non-issue” stance was inadequate and that Tiger should have taken a harder line because “Now is the time for the son to make the father a prophet.” That’s right, not only is Scoop Jackson’s position completely myopic, but it also manages to be repugnantly offensive by trying to characterize Tiger’s actions as counter to the hopes of his deceased father!

Now let’s get to the heart of the matter of why I think Tiger Woods has got it right and why Scoop Jackson is ironically hurting his own cause. Here’s what I believe- people are important, not race. And that’s exactly what Tiger’s measured response conveys. He acknowledges that the term “lynching” evokes strong negative emotions in some people, and that’s why Tilghman’s comment was unfortunate. It’s not cool for one person’s comments to hurt another. But if mankind is to evolve to a point where race truly isn’t an issue, then we should all start by acting that way. And in this case the way to act is to realize that some people were hurt by the words, and that’s a real shame, but let’s move on. The wrong thing to do, the thing that takes us all a step backwards, is to view it as a race issue instead of a people issue. If you’re upset because you expect golf analysts to consider every sentence in the context of African-American history before speaking, that is a sure sign that you are very hung up on race. For you, race is still a big deal and ironically, that makes you more a part of the problem than the solution. You are so bent on somehow getting justice for the injustices in history that you can’t see that you are now actually promoting more emphasis on race and not letting anyone who will listen to you move forwards. Put another way, if Tiger strongly renounced the comments of Tilghman, someone who he calls his friend, and he does it over a race issue, how is that a positive example for kids?? What it would teach them is that race is more significant than friendship, race is more important than people. No, I think Tiger handled things exactly the right way, thank you. Kids that see his example will be more likely to grow up thinking that race is not a big deal. This is a good thing. It is infinitely more productive than trying to “lynch” every person that makes a statement which could be construed as racist. Just let it go. We need more and more people to just let it go until eventually a new generation arises that views both racists and people that are hung up on racism as equally irrelevant and outdated. That will be the tipping point in the evolution of our social consciousness. With that in mind, maybe the way Tiger Woods handled this situation was in fact a step towards fulfilling his father’s prophecy.

Anti-Role Models In Sports

Wow, this past week has seen some particularly shameful stuff from the world of sports. First on Tuesday, there was Bobby Petrino quitting as coach of the Falcons to go and coach the Arkansas Razorbacks. Mind you, this was the very next day after losing a Monday Night Football game. And this was after Arkansas asked for and was denied the request of speaking with Petrino about a possible job offer. This sordid mess was so wrong in so many ways. How cowardly as a head coach, getting paid NFL head coach money, to quit on his team that way. Yes we know the team was in dire straits and going nowhere, and we know the players hated him as a coach. But hey, why did they hate him? He made his bed, and he should have laid in it by sticking it out to the end of the season. In a sport that is all about manning up and being strong, Bobby Petrino was weak and selfish.

Then on Thursday came the infamous Mitchell report, incriminating a number of baseball players as having used performance enhancing substances. The biggest name in the report was Roger Clemens. Through his lawyer, he issued an immediate denial in the hours following the release of the report. As much as I am a Yankee fan and want to believe the denial, once Andy Pettitte came clean and admitted that the Mitchell report was accurate with regards to his own use of HGH, well, I just can’t see how the Rocket’s denials can hold water. Given Pettitte’s close relationship with Clemens and the fact that they shared the same trainer, there’s no way a guy with a conscience like Pettitte’s would have decided to try HGH without first asking his buddy Roger. Even though HGH wasn’t a banned substance by MLB rules at the time, Pettitte knew he was doing something questionable because of the way he had to obtain it. I understand what he did and have no problem with the wording of his statement which started with “if what I did was an error in judgment…”. While others may pounce on him for that, I support him, because his error in judgment is in the eye of the beholder in my opinion. HGH wasn’t banned by MLB at the time, and he thought it might be able to help his elbow heal so that he could get back to his team sooner. It’s like if somebody decided to crossed the border into Mexico to get Viagara. Is it an error in judgment? Sure I think so, but I can see how others might not see it that way, or certainly not as completely black and white. Clemens on the other hand, if he is denying something that is actually the truth, is just being a stubborn liar. That is wrong in very black and white terms.

Finally, on Sunday, in dead last and trailing by 28 strokes, Rory Sabbatini withdrew before the final round of the Target World Challenge, an invitational event hosted by Tiger Woods to raise money for charity. There were only 16 invitees for this event and Rory decides to pull out, at first citing personal reasons and later changing his story to “shin splints”. Mind you, last place for this event paid $170,000 too. Rory got that money and yet he didn’t even stick around to sign autographs or glad hand with the sponsors. What a dick.

I’m not sure which of these stories gets my goat the most, but perhaps the Bobby Petrino thing is the most absurd. After all, he’s going back to the college ranks. College coaches are supposed to be role models for America’s kids. They’re supposed to be teachers of character and leadership. What kind of example are they trying to set down there in Arkansas anyway? With a stand up guy like Bobby Petrino as their guide, don’t be surprised if the next Michael Vick or OJ Simpson comes out of that program.

The Advancement of Civilization is Annoying

All this “green” nonsense is really annoying. Celebrities rallying around the cause pretending to really care about the environment while the cameras are rolling, but just as quickly hopping into their gas guzzling sports cars and private jets, off to their next public appearance. It’s stoopid and disingenuous. But I do take some comfort in knowing that it’s all part of the inevitable- the natural advancement of our civilization.

In science, the Kardashev scale classifies how advanced a civilization is. A Type I civilization is one that can harness all of the power of a whole planet. Type II civilizations can harness that of a star, and Type III, all the power of a single galaxy. We measly humans of course have not even achieved Type I status yet. But I have to believe we’re somewhere past the halfway point to Type I because we’ve figured out how to harness something as powerful as nuclear energy. One way to look at it is this- in the beginning, there was man. An individual human could not control much of anything really. First there was the discovery of fire, something that a single person could in fact manage. But to advance from there, we had to develop human interaction and the formation of societies. This enabled humans to extract things like metal from the earth and to use them to industrialize. How useful would electricity be if there weren’t the evolution of societies into things like states and countries? We need that degree of coordination to achieve the level of resources it takes to build an infrastructure for making electricity a massively productive energy source. Well, the same sort of evolution in societal structure needs to occur to reach Type I civilization. We need a truly global society with the wherewithal to harness the full capacity of our planet. From where we are today, that may seem far fetched, but you don’t have to strain too hard to see the signs. The formation of the EU is one form of consolidation that can be viewed as a step in this direction. Movements to curb disease and human suffering throughout the world, to address world hunger, to combat human rights violations regardless of geographical boundaries, all trend us towards a single global society. It might not be in my lifetime, but I think the formation of such a world society is an inevitability. It might be a slow natural evolution, or it might be accelerated by things like the depletion of a natural resource, the need to combat a global epidemic or natural disaster, or even something as fantastic as aliens from outer space.

But just as natural and inevitable as this appears to me, it’s just as obvious that there will always be resistance to change. And where we are today, that resistance comes most readily from the terrorists, racists and fanatical religious zealots. But it’s clear that isolation and sectism is being phased out and in favor of global integration. It’s natural. Like gin into tonic, you don’t have to do anything and yet eventually everything mellows and blends together on its own. So the next time you get annoyed at Woody Harrelson trying convince you to add hemp to your wardrobe or Matt Damon telling you how to save trees, try and think of it as a step towards a Type I civilization… or just have a Sapphire and tonic.

Anybody else feeling moody?

I really think there’s something cosmic going on that’s negatively affecting people’s moods, myself included. I’ve heard of seasonal affective disorder, but I don’t think that’s what this is, because there seems to have actually been more sunlight in the past week. Whatever it is, it sucks. Without much cause or reason for it I just find myself feeling kind of blah. And it isn’t just me. Today alone, I got phone calls from two different friends, each feeling completely bummed out. I felt bad because I wasn’t feeling like my normal self either so I was pretty much useless in the cheering up department. I tried doing a little cooking to see if that would pick me up a bit. I made some sea urchin risotto, the idea coming from something I had seen Todd English make. It came out tasting like really good risotto, but the uni flavor was kind of muted because I could only get my hands on the smaller east coast variety which isn’t nearly as sweet and creamy as the uni from California. Will definitely have to give it another try when I can get a hold of the good stuff. It was still really delicious though and I ended up eating a whole pan full of it. This was of course followed by much slothlike napping on the couch. I had also picked up some sweet shrimp at the Japanese market when I went to get the uni, so I ate that a few hours later. Sweet shrimp with uni, soy sauce and wasabi. Simple but excellent. I bought three $10 trays of sea urchin, used one tray for the risotto, another for the shrimp, and I still have one for tomorrow night which I intend to have by itself. Yet even these indulgences haven’t done anything for my mood. I ended up taking the shrimp heads and shells and making shrimp stock with it just because I felt it would have been a waste not to, but now it seems like just another thing to worry about- what will I make with the stock this week? Hrmmm…

Think it’s just me? Well to cap it all off, I just found out that the Korean actress Jung Da-Bin committed suicide two weeks ago. She was the lead actress in that first K-drama I ever watched, Attic Cat. She was also really funny in a flick called He Was Cool. While she wasn’t what most would consider a classic beauty, she was a great actress whose range of funny, mad, pouty expressions really made her grow on you. I remember thinking she was kind of homely looking at the start of Attic Cat, but by the end of the drama, you couldn’t help thinking she was irresistably cute in an unconventional sort of way. And now Jung Da-Bin is gone at the age of 26. Apparently in a drunken state, she hung herself with a towel at her boyfriend’s place. I just watched a bunch of tribute videos on YouTube that fans have uploaded since she passed away. So very sad.

Jung Da Bin wake

Totally Bullshit Legislation

I’m currently too physically and emotionally exhausted from work and other things to do this post justice, but I just had to get my two cents in while this story is still relatively hot, as is my ire. For those of you who didn’t hear about it, and I’m assuming most of you didn’t, fucking Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist snuck in the bill to make internet gambling illegal by attaching it to a completely unrelated Port Security bill which was up for a vote. Surely enough, this Port Security Act was passed by Congress in the wee hours of Friday night/Saturday morning. After all, who would vote against securing our ports, right? Naturally, President Bush intends to sign it so that pretty much seals the deal. There will be 270 days for the terms to be fully defined, but it is essentially now going to be a felony for US banks to transact with online gambling websites. You want to get money out of your online poker account? You better book a flight to the Isle of Man or someplace like that because you sure as hell are not going to be able to transfer funds or cash any check that the site would normally send you. This is the American political system at its absolute ugliest. By sneaking in this bill, it makes the religious right happy just in time for election season.

Furthermore, the Republicans were in such a mad rush to get this bill passed at all costs that they ended up doing it by including all kinds of wacked out exceptions. Horse racing? Exempt! State lotteries? Exempt! Fantasy Sports? Exempt! And the craziest one of all? Online gambling sites run by approved state-licensed casinos are… EXEMPT! Talk about a sweetheart deal for casino operators! Think it’s a coincidence that a $15 billion buyout offer for Harrah’s was announced on Monday and rumors abound that the bid will go higher? People saw this coming and see the future angle too. Besides the book evaluation of the current worth of the Harrah’s operations, think of the upside after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 begins getting enforced. Harrah’s owns the WSOP which has enjoyed phenomenal growth due to the ever increasing number of participants qualifying online (like yours truly). So this law, under the guise of preserving morality or some other such nonsense, will actually eliminate all offshore competitors and create a protected environment for state-licensed casinos to monopolize the internet poker industry. Suddenly the only way for the average internet poker joe to qualify online for the WSOP main event will be to do it on the Harrah’s website. Think of the millions of internet poker players which currently divide their business amongst many different sites, all gravitating towards the tiny handful of sites owned by these American casinos. That my friends, is the kind of loophole it takes to get a bullshit law passed in this country. And even if you don’t give a damn about poker, sweetheart protectionist legislation or even conservative vs. liberal politics, there’s still one major underlying question that makes this whole legislation reek of shit- WHAT THE HELL DOES ONLINE GAMBLING HAVE TO DO WITH PORT SECURITY??!!

The Listener Will Now Be Denied

My favorite morning radio host Star (real name Troi Torain) of Power 105.1’s Star and Buc Wild show got fired today for comments he made on yesterday’s show directed towards DJ Envy of Hot 97. I actually stayed in my car after I got to work just to hear him finish his remarks because I just knew that he was heading towards dangerous waters. He basically said that he would do an R Kelly on Envy’s baby girl. There were also racial remarks used since Envy’s wife is part Asian. What I’m sure you won’t hear as this breaking news story makes its rounds is the context both of the show and those remarks in particular. Star’s M.O. is what he calls “objective hate”. While I can’t say I completely understand what that philosophy really entails, it’s something along the lines of encouraging the verbal expression of hate for the truth that it reveals. Supposedly it’s at that level of communication that more real and meaningful interactions can occur because those expressions of hate are closer to one’s true feelings. It’s certainly not my thing, but I respect the intelligence it takes to read and think and come up with one’s own philosophy like that. Now that’s the thing- despite it being on a hip hop station that plays what uptight conservatives would consider ignorant thug music, Star’s show was an intelligent one, meant for intelligent listeners. If you were ignorant, you would listen to the show and hear nothing but the racial epithets and inciteful comments and likely be blinded by your own rage. But if you were an intelligent listener capable of grasping the underlying content two levels deeper than the words themselves, you’d understand that he’s trying to incite those masses because that’s exactly what objective hate seeks to elicit.

This is the main difference between Star and the other controversial radio figures- Star has a structured philosophy and a path. There’s a point to it. It’s complex, but it’s there if you have the intellect to get it. Howard Stern? Pure shock jock for shock’s sake. No point to his schtick. Opie and Anthony? Same deal. Miss Jones on Hot 97? Who knows, I don’t listen to her. But they all seem to be on the airwaves aimlessly trying out ploys just to get attention. It would be an easy mistake for first time listeners to lump Star in with those other guys, because on the surface that’s just what he sounds like. It will certainly sound that way to people who only hear the sound bites that will get circulated with the news of his current firing. But does anyone really believe that Star would go and seek out a 4-year old girl in order to pee on her? Anybody?? I don’t for a second believe that Envy’s wife really believes it either despite her claims that she fears for her daughter’s safety and has hired additional security.

Do I think Star crossed the line? Sure I do. I don’t think children should ever be brought into the conflicts of adults. But that’s just where I draw my own personal line. But you know what? Some people take offense to others talking about their mothers. So should talking about someone’s mother on the radio be grounds for dismissal? If that’s where you draw your line, maybe you would feel that way. But my position is that you have no right trying to impose your line on me. Technically I’m sure there’s a possibility that what Star said could be considered a criminal threat and have legal ramifications. But if you’re going to take stuff out of context like that, you might as well bring Joe Torre up on charges for threatening to strangle Tanyon Sturtze after he made a bad throwing decision in a game last week. It’s nonsense. In context, what Star was really doing was responding to comments that Envy supposedly went to confront him in person down at the station but that Star just never showed up. Star said something to the effect of “Are you sure you were at the right building?” and then gave the address of the station. “I’m the easiest guy in the world to find.” He went on to say that apparently nobody witnessed Envy at the station, and not even anyone in Envy’s own posse could confirm that he really went there. Star was trying to prove that Envy was never there on the grounds that he didn’t have the cojones to do something like that. So Star decided to push the daughter button figuring that type of disrespect would put Envy into a man-up-or-shut-up situation. The comments crossed my line, sure, but what does my line have to do with anything. If any intellectually challenged listeners couldn’t understand what Star was doing, it should have been clear when he followed it up with “I’ve disrespected your seed. Now you have to call me, Dawg.” The point was to disrespect Envy in the deepest way possible, not to express his desire to piss on a little girl. But when the story of Star’s firing hits all the news wires tomorrow, this will not be apparent. At best they’ll portray him as some out of control radio guy just trying to be controversial and at worst, they will try to make you believe Star is a dangerous gun-toting pedophile.

The other stuff about the racial slurs are just silly. Star considers himself simply “a man of color” and refuses to define his identity by any race. Any and all races are fair game to be targeted on his show; that’s the objective part of objective hate. Look, I’m Chinese and I’m telling you that anybody getting all up in arms over lo mein comments in this day and age needs to get a grip on their sensitivity. And if your argument is that airing these slurs on the radio will encourage others to make similar comments, I hope you spend as much time instilling your children with quality values and the ability to think for themselves as you do in teaching them that every derogatory comment is a personal injustice that needs to be corrected by government intervention. Years ago, Star himself was strongly against the use of the N-word, regardless of whether it was being used between blacks or not. But what he observed back then was that people mainly either didn’t feel strongly about it or had no intention of changing. So that’s exactly why he throws it back in their faces today with an overuse of the word. One of the phrases he actually used to describe gangster rap was “bang bang shoot em up nigga die slow crap”. He did with the N-word what all rational intelligent people should do- he took a position, made some observations around it, learned from them and re-evaluated his position. No doubt that’s what he’ll do again now that Clear Channel has let him go. And to those of you who think DJ Envy wins this war because he hit Star in the wallet by getting him fired, I wouldn’t be too sure about that. I think there’s a strong possibility that Star’s contract with Clear Channel had some very specific clauses regarding exactly what Star should be compensated in an event like this. That was the reason it took so long to get him back on the air in NY; the contract had to be just right. I did mention that Star is an intelligent guy, didn’t I? In the meantime, it remains a sad irony that we will no longer get to hear the show whose motto was “The listener will not be denied”.