5.31.2004

i'm back from my holiday jaunt to pasadena. all told it was a very relaxing weekend, golf and the beach. someone please tell me again why people live anywhere else?

anyways, i'm now beginning to feel the effects of my time out in the sun. i seem to have this weird burn on my chest and abdomen. there's a bright red oval that's about four inches wide that runs from about the middle of my pecs to about my belly button. everywhere else on my torso is fine. i guess that my buddha belly put that part of my body closer to the sun that the rest. anyways, it really hurt to take a shower today. not that anyone will ever really see, but it's really kinda weird, kinda like crop circles on my beergut. i wonder what foucault would say.

on a positive note (and perfect segue to scheduled blog topic #3), i think that the sun was good for my psoriaisis. the inflammation on my thigh seems to have gone down a little bit since i was out in the sun yesterday. like i said in that previous post, i went to the dermatologist about my psoriaisis. apparently student health is flying in this guy from iowa, so i don't have to use my deductible to see a specialist anymore, which is a good thing. in any case, he recommended that i go see, in his words "one of the foremost experts in the world on psoriaisis" who works out of the UCLA medical center. so i guess that i'll go make an appointment with him sometime this summer. to be honest, i'm a little jazzed that i am going to meet the foremost expert in the world of anything. i wonder what he'll be like? fredo offered that he would be an old man with a big mane of white hair with the little reflector headband that doctors wear in cartoons and he'd be smoking a pipe. i think that i picture him a little more like dr. emmet brown from back to the future. you know, wild ass hair, bug eyes and just totally out of his f-ing mind. you know granted it's psoriaisis, but i don't think that it could be easy to be the foremost expert in the world in anything. as history as shown us over and over, the true geniuses of the world suffer because they are crushed by the weight of their own genius. and as i'm sure you can tell by reading my pullitzer caliber writing, that is surely the case with me. anyways, i just hope that he can fix my nails. they can't be a good thing for attracting the ladies.

on a somewhat self-referential-meta-note. i think that this is the first time i've ever blogged about something even remotely personal. again, granted it's my psoriaisis, which is basically dandruff of the skin. for those of you who don't know, psoriaisis is when the skin becomes scaly and flakes off faster than normal. it's mainly a cosmetic thing and there are no real serious health risks, but it definitely is kinda gross and not something i tell people when i first meet them. anyways, here it is, out for anyone who has internet access to know about and be grossed out by. i wonder if this means if i've made some kind of breakthrough with my trust issues or intimacy issues. perhaps this is helping by providing me a safe place to share these intimate issues of mine, like my battle with psoriaisis. but then again, maybe i just really like typing the word psoriaisis. in any case, psoriaisis psoriaisis psoriaisis psoriaisis

5.30.2004

now i know why you shouldn't make a list of things you want to blog about publicly. the pressure to get the list done only prevents you from blogging about things that you should be blogging about. like the fact that i played golf yesterday. it was pretty brutal as i am a duffer in the truest sense. i shot a 58 for nine holes. the day was filled with errant drives, lost balls, and cursing. however, on the par 3 eighth, i was getting really really frustrated and after whiffing on my first two tee shots, and then hitting my third shot about thirty feet along the ground, i hit my 6 iron to within three feet of the cup. i knocked it stiff on the green too, so i think that i was able to hit the ball so good that i was able to get some PGA type spin on my shot. i then tapped in for a real live bona fide par. that one shot made the entire day totally worth it. anyways, i've decided that i really miss playing golf. this summer i'm resolving to pony up the big money and take some golf lessons so i can figure out what's wrong with my swing. pretty soon i'll be playing with my putter regularly...maybe not...rock me!

anyways, i did want to make some comments on ivan maisel's piece on the stuff going on with the colorado football program.

the article basically illustrates how the university of colorado is a good example of the debate that is raging on campuses regarding whether or not big time college athletics interferes with an institution of higher learning's mission to educate the populace. of course, the usual argument goes that big time college athletics makes so much money for schools to pour back into their universities, the occasional national media embarrassments are worth the payoff in additional resources to a school. the counter argument of course is that so much emphasis is placed on winning that the concessions made to ensure a winning team make universities little more than whores to the sports entertainment complex.

while i'm sure there's merit to both sides, what i don't think there's merit to is that there is some middle ground solution that can be reached that can fulfill both the need to feed sports crazy alumni (and american culture) and protect the integrity of a university. the system as created by the NCAA is so corrupt and nontransparent that it seems ultimately foolish to think that any team that wins on a consistent basis is not cheating. the bottom line, you either pay the players or you do everything in your power to make sure that they are not. and when i say everything in your power, as lauryn hill would say, "everything means everything". the NFL has a program where they hire private investigators to basically dig up dirt on prospects. these guys follow the players around, they dig through their trash, they question minor acquaintences and find out about every every illegal substance they've ever took, every test they've ever cheated on, and every nasty skank they've ever slept with. sure it's a bit gestapo, but for the most part, it's pretty effective. what's even more effective is how almost all of the teams keep to the spirit of this arrangment. my observation is that teams are quite loathe to draft any players with major questionable off the field activities (warren sapp notwithstanding of course, the difference is, he's a truly special player). if the ncaa hired me, i'm sure that i could easily produce evidence that almost any division I team is cheating. so enforcement is clearly an issue here that i think maisel, or anyone for that matter, has really brought up enough. the point is, you can get rid of most of the corruption if you really try, and the ncaa isn't trying.

the other point is, that many of these players are exploited by schools, television networks, apparel companies, and countless other a-holes and recieve nothing other than a slim chance of playing professional sports after they are done. i don't question that there are many athletes out there who do end up getting a good education out of the deal, but there are enough who get chewed up and spit out by the system where something needs to be done.

i have alot more opinions, but i got to be honest with you, the writing is just not coming to me right now, and there's too many other things that i have to blog about to continue on this topic much longer. perhaps when college football season comes around, i'll share some more of my thoughts, but for right now, i just want to go on record as saying that the system is so broke, that there's nothing to be done except scrap it. but of course, this will never be done because there's too much money at stake.

on a final note, i'm in LA right now, so i guess you could say that this is my first remote blog entry. we went to the beach today and it was f-ing great. all i really have to say right now is that the string bikini has to go down as one of the greatest inventions of all time.

5.28.2004

E!

i'm deviating from my most recent schedule of topics, but i would be remiss if i didn't say anything about E!'s chief executive stepping down in the midst of some funding impropriety.

according to the article, one of the charges leveled against mindy herman is that she misappropriated company funds to pay for a baby shower in her honor.

i guess it seems like a minor thing, since most likely, none of us have even heard of mindy herman, but in the pantheon of pop culture, i think that E! has emerged as one of the central information hubs, particularly in reinforcing the entertainment celebrity as royalty myth that we have going on here in these united states.

as barthes says, myths serve principally to reinforce some sort of existing ideology or power structure. as to which particular ideology or power structure that this particular mythology supports, i'm not really sure. i guess that some people would say it would be to reinforce mass media's underlying message of reinforcing capitalism, whiteness, or whatever. however, i find this a little problematic since much of E!'s programming revolves around deconstructing the myth of celebrity by showing how corrupt or in the case of anna nicole smith, how dumb celebrities can be. at the same time, i guess running insipid jules asner interviews of tom hanks or julia roberts makes them seem like nice folks. i guess that like most of popular culture, it serves contradictory roles.

in any case, the successor should be an interesting story to follow. but for me, as long as they find ways to get brooke burke on the air in her bathing suit, i really don't care.

5.27.2004

the computer upgrade odyssey.

let's start from the bery beginning...a very good place to start...

late march 2004 - i buy tiger woods 2004 for my PC and quickly learn that it is the greatest golf sim of all time. however, my computer crashes intermittently. i reason to myself that it must be my video card cuz at the time, is at least four generations behind the current standard. but the crashing doesn't occur enough for me to want to anything about it.

early april 2004 - i visit alfredo in pasadena and install tiger woods 2004 on his computer which he had just purchased in the past week. i am stunned and amazed about how much better it looks on his computer. the 3D cameras are more active and detailed, the trees move and the galleries applaud, and green is much much easier to read on his computer. i decide to myself that it's time for me to upgrade the computer because tiger woods 2004 is such a great game that it deserves to be played the way it was meant to be played, fully rendered in 3D. tiger woods will tremble before me in all of my pixellated and shaded glory. for me, the obvious place to start was with the video card.

mid april 2004 - rather than buy a card that is a few generations behind, i decide to go for broke and plunk down 200 bucks to purchase a brand spanking new ATI Radeon AIW 9600. only one generation behind the latest and greatest. 128MB of AGP power and memory. also has a neat attachment so that i can hook up a TV antennae and watch TV on my PC. after installing it, i realize that i can also hook up the card to a VCR and turn the video recordings for my thesis into computer files and code on the fly with my laptop. life changes dramatically and i make real progress towards finishing my thesis. not only can i convert the video feed, but the card comes with software that transcribes the close caption feed recorded on the video tape, so the comments are already typed for me. instead of starting, stopping, typing, rewinding, and then typing again, i simply cut and past the comments into my dataset. what would have normally taken about 100 or so hours ends up only taking about 50. kill bill II is released.

may 2004 - while coding the dataset, tiger woods is still causing crashes in my computer. so while the game looks better than it ever did, i still rarely can get through a whole round of golf without having to restart three or four times. even worse, i end up losing some of the money that i have made on the game due to what is probably a software glitch. i resort to a number of attempted fixes. first, i buy more memory, only to find out that one of the memory slots on my motherboard doesn't work. so instead of 1.3 gigs of memory, i can only upgrade to 1 gig. i know, i know, still a whole hell of a lot. that doesn't fix the problem. then i discover ebay. i buy a used AMD 2100 in hopes that the extra juice will be enough to prevent the computer from crashing. not wanting to risk the thesis dataset, i wait until i'm done coding to install the processor (and 400W power supply purchased on ebay for 4 bucks). the processor is installed, and i effectively have doubled my computing power, which roughly translates to a startup time that is shorter by about 10 seconds. but my hopes are soon dahsed as tiger woods continues to crash. derek fisher scores with .04 seconds remaining to effectively wrap up the NBA title.

last week - i decide that a last ditch effort will be made by installing the latest drivers for the ATI card. after installation, my computer display goes haywire. instead of a cursor, i get a box of horizontal lines. icons become corrupted and look shoddy. all 3D games look like crap. i curse ATI over and over again for writing such a poor driver. i spend a good 10-15 hours installing, reinstalling, rolling back drivers of all sorts in hopes of resolving the problem. nothing works, tiger still crashes. finally i get around to calling the ATI folks on monday. cursing ATI reaches a new level as i invent words in an attempt to damn the software writers to hell for inconveniencing me so. unfortunately they are located in canada and closed for a silly foreign holiday known as victoria day. call them on tuesday and spend about a half hour on the phone with a tech. we try a variety of things and nothing works. he tells me that he's going to send a list of recommended bios settings over email and to call him back if it doesn't work.

yesterday - i apply new bios settings and everything works perfectly. tiger woods, which had been crashing at 800 x 600 is now running flawlessly at 1260 x 1208. i AM at pebble beach. webpages load faster because picture files are rendered quicker. i score a hole in one on the 15th at pinehurst. the gallery goes nuts. i go to st. rafael's and light a candle for scott s., the ATI tech that helped me with my problem.

today - while trying to fix the ATI problem i had to go back to an older driver and uninstall the advanced control panel. as always, i am briefly tempted to try and reinstall everything. but instead of always wanting to go balls to the wall with my technology, i think better of it and stay content with my current PC setup.

the two lessons learned from this saga.

1. the problem was always with my bios settings and had nothing to do with my video card, or processor. however, because i was able to get my thesis data coded finally it was totally worth it. but the point is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

2. tiger woods is the single greatest f-ing PC game in the history of ever.

i know, this was long and tedious and not that interesting, but since i consider myself a tech junkie, i felt the need to document the trials and tribulations that i went through. i remember when i bought my first computer and having no idea how to do anything except turn on the computer and find free porn. look at me now, installing new processors and video cards, adjusting bios settings, and laying waste to the field on the PGA tour.
i really should be grading or working on getting my content analysis class final paper done, but there's so much to blog about. i've been neglecting this here blog and to my loyal reader (or 2), i sincerely apologize. in any case, i know that telling people what you are going to blog about in the future is not really standard blog protocol per se and more suited for fully functional websites, but there's some reading material that you need to have done before i can blog on the other stuff. so here's the lineup for the next few days or so.

1. the computer upgrade odyssey - i'll probably write up this post immediately after finishing this post.

2. college football and the colorado university scandal - ivan maisel wrote one of the best online articles on sports that i think i've ever read yesterday on this topic and the topic of college athletics in general. needless to say, i have a great deal of things to say on this topic.

3. psoriaisis update - just saw a new dermatologist today and learned that "gluteal cleft" is the technical term for "buttcrack".

4. sports and myth - ralph wiley, who is fast becoming one of my favorite online columnists wrote a nice piece on the myth of the lakers. again, much to comment on.

so there's the lineup. see you in a few.

5.25.2004

a circus clown that goes by the stage name of "spanky" got arrested for child porn today. the jokes are coming into my head so fast that i'm a little dizzy right now.

5.23.2004

rest in peace sweet adrianna.

i can't believe that adrianna got whacked tonight on the sopranos. i guess it was inevitable, but it really breaks my heart know that chrissie couldn't find it in his heart to get out of the mafia for his one true love. i always has a soft spot for those two. one of the things that i think that the sopranos' writers do better than anything is how they write chris and adrianna's relationship. sure he's a ruthless killer and hypocritical drug addict. sure she's as dumb as a rock. but despite all that, you never doubted their love for each other, the role in this cosmos as each other's soulmate. that one scene right after he tries to choke her and then they both break down crying, in each others arms....it really really broke my heart to see that. i mean if those two kids can't make it in this crazy world, then we're all doomed.

anyways, no way chrissie doesn't eventually flip out and go crazy...back on heroin because as he says, "i just can't take the pain." neither can i. goodbye sweet adrianna. whatever you do, please keep wearing tight outfits on the joey show.

5.21.2004

this blogging thing is really gettin' to me...

so i was reading the blog of the owner of my beloved dallas mavericks, mark cuban and one of his posts uses statistical analysis to prove that one of the league officials statistically has an effect on the outcome of games. he quotes some minnesota timberwolves' fan's data analysis of the outcome of games when joey crawford is one of the officials, he quotes:

> Outcome 1 Outcome 2 Total
> Group 1 7 1 8
> Group 2 0 3 3
> Total 7 4 11
>
> Fisher’s exact test
> The two-tailed P value equals 0.0242
>
> The association between rows (groups) and columns (outcomes)
> is considered to be statistically significant.

granted he's quoting someone else, and granted he's crazy, i just thought that i'd use this as a perfect example of how statistics are so misused in sports. anyone who know's anything about basic statistics can tell you, not enough data. you really can't make any good inferences based on three freakin observations. but the worst thing of all is that i checked the comments and only one person commented on the problem with using this as evidence to support the argument.

i din't mean for this post to do this, but this gives me a perfect opportunity to announce to all five of you who read this blog, that i officially got the teaching gig for this summer. i'll be teaching statistics for the social sciences M thru F from 9:30AM - 10:45AM. it's a crazy thought to think that i will be responsible for providing young men and women with the tools that they need to read the stupid USAToday graphics, but the soc department has given me the keys to their car. i only hope that i don't drive it into a ditch. in any case, you can bet that i'll be using sports a whole lot to make my point about statistics. also, if anyone has any suggestions as to how i might word the "sex for grades" policy for my syllabus, i'd be eternally grateful.

only P1's will get this next joke, but if i could somehow work it where i gave extra credit to some hot chick for sleeping with me, in effect, i'd be giving her points for sex...baby arm!
so i guess that they changed the name of the the formerly beloved Ballpark in Arlington to Ameriquest Field. i think that it's kinda weird that they did it after the season started. i haven't been to the temple in quite some time now, but i'm sure that the ameriquest logo won't change the feel of it too much, at least i hope not. anyways, all i have to say is that i hope the rangers at least use that new sponsorship money to go get some young pitchers.

i have quite few fond memories of the ballpark in a-town. i was late to my senior prom because the rangers were having turn back the clock day and hot dogs were a dollar. i must've eaten four hot dogs that afternoon. i also have the distinct privelege (maybe not), to be able to say that i've been to every rangers' home playoff game. twice i flew in from over a thousand miles away to watch the rangers get slaughtered by the yankees. if that doesn't make me #1 fan, then i don't know what does. the last one i went to featured a two hour rain delay, in which i refused to move from my seat, only because i was too distraught by the rangers impending sweep.

this new team seems fun to watch, and everyone seems to love them. I guess, that i'm pretty happy that they're having some success this season. they're definitely playing well above expectations, but i think any talk of winning the division this year is waaayyyyyy premature. it's a nice thought, but i just don't see the pitching lasting, come one, R.A. Dickey? Joaquin Benoit? Chan Ho? ehhhh, i don't think so buddy. even more importantly, however, i can't help but think that the reason everyone is so high on this club is because this year, more than ever, the rangers are whitey central. full of players that remind them of rusty greer. i'm not saying that michael young and hank blalock aren't good, they are, but it seems to me that alfonso soriano, is the biggest reason for their turnaround. rob neyer has a good column today on espn.com about this very topic. the column uses win shares alot, which i haven't quite figured out yet, but i do think it's safe to say that these kinds of stories about soriano are much rarer than stories about how great kevin mench or laynce nix (who spells lance with a y? that's so freakin redneck man) are. dammit i hate whitey.

in any case, unlike the lakers, i'm hesitant to jump on the rangers bandwagon just yet, only because the rangers have broken my heart more than any other sports team in bob ngo fandom history. the boycott is still in place until they win a playoff series.

5.19.2004

i just installed a new processor into my computer, and now my formerly 1.1Ghz machine is a lean mean 2.2Ghz porn downloadin' machine! i don't think it will improve the quality of this blog very much, but tiger woods 2004 is a much more enjoyable experience now.
so i finally finished coding the video files for my thesis. hopefully, it will just be a speedy process to but this bitch to bed. in any case, finishing the coding means that i got to shave my playoff beard. for posterity, i took pictures of the process. it's amazing how much difference facial hair makes in how you look. in any case, enjoy.

here, i was going for the harley davidson look




then i tried to go for the magnum look, but i think i ended up more with the porn stache look



then i tried to go for the hitler look, but again, because of the lack of hair directly beneath the bridge of my nose, it just ends up looking stupid



finally, here i am all squeaky clean, boyish, and handsome again. unfortunately, the lack of stache really highlights the amount of hair that i have in my nose (note to self, buy nose hair clippers)

5.18.2004

this just in...randy johnson just completed the 17th perfect game in MLB history. the big unit has long been a favorite of mine for several reasons. first, he's a lefty, like me. second, during his heyday, he was as dominant as a pitcher as there ever was, and we all know how i feel about dominance in sports. third, he plays the drums, like me. fourth, he used to have a bitchin' mullet, like me. and lastly and most importantly, the big unit (like me..heehee!) is among baseball's greatest nicknames ever.

anyways, you can get the full details here. true it was against a very light hitting atlanta braves team (who just struck out 18 times against ben sheets a few days ago), but he did strike out chipper jones three times (13 Ks for the game), probably their best offensive player three times, so you know he was on.

anyways, i guess the most interesting thing about this for me is that i actually followed along on the live webcast on the internet. it was espn's gamecase, which doesn't have anything in terms of audio or video, just a written pitch by pitch account of the game. and while it was exciting to follow along with history, i must say, that it definitely wasn't the same as hearing it on the radio or seeing it on tv. i remember listening on the radio when nolan ryan struck out rickey henderson for his 5,000th strikeout, and i remember watching barry bonds hit number 71 live on television. both of those were really cool sports moments for me. however, waiting for the computer to refresh itself every 5 seconds really killed some of the excitement of it. this is interesting because i've long carried the torch for the takeover by the machines. in other words, i love technology and i've argued with other people about how machines don't depersonalize things, people do. i don't know, maybe there is something to this whole warm bodies make a difference thing. anyways, way to go randy.

5.17.2004

all lakers, all the time

now that you've had time to digest the snoop photo, let's take a few moments to contemplate the lakers playoff series victory over the spurs.

1. the actual series is quite emblematic of how lakers' seasons seem to go these days, bad start, followed by a totally dominating performance if for no other reason than to shut up critics, a crazy game that featured a near total collapse by the lakers, but still coming out on top, and another victory in a series clinching game.

2. yeah, the fisher shot was a complete freak of nature (as was duncan's, 9 out of 10 times, both of those guys miss that shot), but to beat tim duncan in four consecutive games is really quite impressive. i mean we're talking about a guy who is more automatic in the low post than anyone i've ever seen. and to not let him beat you at least one time out of four is either a testament to how great the lakers are or how awful the rest of the spurs are.

3. speaking of how awful the spurs are, after game two, i was convinced that parker was going to be a stud. granted he's still young and he's a lot better than most point guards were at his age, it turns out that all it takes to shake up tony parker is a little contact. which i feel can be traced to mental toughness. in other words, it seems easy to rattle his cage, but not surprising considering he's french. also, what was the deal with that bandage he had flopping around on his chin?

4. i've said this before, but it can't be said enough, greg popovich couldn't coach his way out of a brown paper bag. not that phil's better, but there were a ton of strategic errors on popovich's part. not playing bowen on the last shot, letting the rookie (i can't even remember his name) take wild ass shots, and most importantly, not using the strategy that seems to work in almost every spurs win, pound the ball into timmy d. down the stretch. all coaches are overrated, but in this case, a poor coach contributed significantly to his team's demise.

5. that alleged rapist sure can play ball.

6. he's lost some competitive fire and his numbers aren't what they used to be, but give me the diesel over KG anyday.

7. and that line, "one lucky shot deserves another," come on man, what's not to like about this guy?

8. after the second game, i did jump off the bandwagon, and then jumped back on after game four, but i do want to remind everyone, that i did predict that the lakers would win it all this year. give me the kings over the wolves in game seven, and then give me the lakers in four or five. i really don't feel the need to proffer a prediction about the laker's chances against whatever the eastern conference can muster up as their representative.
the greatest picture of all time:
congrats to gwynnie and chris on the birth of their daughter apple. although i thought it would have been a much better gag to name her "banana" or "zucchini". do you think that gwyneth now calls chris martin's penis, "johnny appleseed"? get it? thanks everyone, you've been a great audience...wayne newton will be out in a few minutes...goodnight!

5.13.2004

does this mean that hawaiians are racist?
back on the bandwagon.

does anyone know where i can get a derek fisher jersey?
more barry talk...

there's a good article in this week's sports illustrated by tom verducci (again, no link, because you have to subscribe to be able to access it) and a good article on espn.com by jayson stark about how barry bonds basically causes a tear in the space-time fabric of baseball strategy. my newest favorite stat is that barry bonds is on pace to be intentionally walked 128 times this year. think about that. a full time player gets somewhere between 500 to 600 plate appearances a year (give or take fifty). so even before the end of may, at the very least, the general strategy of intentionally walking bonds is going to add .220 to his obp. as if barry's near .400 batting average isn't enough. the dominance of barry bonds is so great that is basically causes managers to stop thinking rationally and basically get on their knees like some crack whore desparate for a rock. my favorite part of the stark column is the vegas analogy:
If you ignore the intentional walks and look at Bonds' other 93 plate appearances this year, you find that ...

48 percent of the time, he has made an out. Three times, he has made two outs (by grounding into a double play).

25 percent of the time, he has walked.
"So in 73 percent of his plate appearances," Law said, "the outcome was equal to or better than an intentional walk."

Obviously, Law concedes, game score and situation can change this equation. But in general, he concluded, "when you intentionally walk Bonds, it's like playing a roulette wheel where 27 percent, or fewer, of the spaces are black and 73 percent are red -- and you're betting on black."

anyways, there's also lots of talk about barry having the worst supporting cast that he's had in a while. no argument here, but i wish more people would start talking about how this fact actually reaffirms his greatness. no pitches to hit, but somehow is near .400 and over 10HRs before the end of may. you do the math.

5.12.2004

so here's the first official experiment with uploading pictures to the blog. if this is successful, then you can expect all sorts of porn to be posted in the future. anyways, i'm in the middle of coding my data for my thesis and let me tell you it is a gigantic pain in the arse. anyways, to help myself stay focused, i'm growing a playoff beard like hockey players do during the stanley cup playoffs. i won't shave until i'm done coding. anyways, here it is

for you baseball stats geeks, this guy is my new hero.

5.11.2004

things are getting really bad in iraq. not that i want to get all political on you, but the more and more i hear and think about this whole war, the more and more i think that all of this will be a colossal disaster of historic proportions. i simply can't imagine any scenario where things will be ok in the near future. this war will be fought well into the next generation. at least with vietnam, in the long run, communism died out (well, except in china, cuba, vietnam, etc.). religious fundumentalists aren't going anywhere.

my friend alfredo brought up a good point today about the whole prison torture photo stuff. yes, it's really really bad and we should be trying to stop it. however, shock and disbelief should not be our reaction. i hate to use such a banal cliche, but war is hell. for us to think that this stuff is out of the ordinary is extremely naive on our part. what makes me laugh the most is when people bring up the geneva convention. it's the same thing as using the death penalty as a deterrent. no one ever thinks they're going to get caught (although i will concede the point that these idiots in the army were extremely foolish in taking pictures or making videos). the point is, if there is some kind of armed conflict going on, than there will be raping and torturing and pillaging. pakistan/india, palestine/israel, chiapas/mexico...people involved in these conflicts are also raping and torturing and pillaging. my point is, that people who are upset about the war will no doubt add this torture thing to their rally cry. i'm not saying don't, but unless you're a total pacifist and think that all armed civil conflict is wrong, you're a hypocrite. if you think that there are some cases where going to war is ok, then you have to realize you are also saying that in certain cases, rape and torture is ok as well.

i guess what i'm trying to say is, that the issue of why we're in iraq in the first place is separate from the issue of why people are getting tortured by military personnel.

as for the guy who got his head cut off by those people (i don't know if they were al queda or what), i genuinely feel bad for him, cuz i can't think of many worse ways to die. i'll give the same lesson as the pat tillman post. hey, i don't think that it's good you died, but you get what you sign up for.
life without hot white chicks on television...

the last episode of friends aired last week with over 52,000,000 people tuned in. it was actually a rather mundane episode providing closure in almost every way to the show. as far as show finales go, i'd give somewhere between a B and a B-. it was interesting to see the reaction of people that i watched the show with, with about half of them not ever really watching the show. i suspect that their reasons were similar to the most commonly cited criticism of friends, it's too white. while i do think that the show is all about whitey, i don't neccesarily think that it should be criticized for this reason. me, i think that the show is pretty funny, and on occasion, hilarious. friends has good writers and the characters that they've developed over the last ten years are pretty good in the grand pantheon of sit-com characters. i personally think that the monica as obsessive compulsive is really funny. in any case, like i said, the show is written by whitey, for whitey. and in a great multicultural world where race isn't an issue, this might be a problem. but the fact is, race is an issue that can often have heavy psychological effects, namely white guilt, that can really bring people down, i.e. Roots. the point is, sometimes television is a respite and a distraction from the real world. i don't think it is accurate to describe friends as a paridigmatic representation of white supremacy as it would be to describe it as a show about white people who like most white people in the world, don't have that many people of color as friends, which in turn provides some people with a few comic moments with a representation that they are able to relate to. now i'm not saying it provides all people with this, like i said before, made by whitey, for whitey, but i feel like dismissing it on those grounds is like saying, "i don't like good times because i, middle-white-class-person, can't identify with poor working class african-americans." the failure is not on the show's part, it is on the viewer's part for failing to be able to imagine an experience that is different from theirs. so people who dismiss friends for being too white are doing the exact same thing that people who dismiss black popular culture for being too black. friends is a funny show about white people, get over it.

as far as series finales go, i thought that it was pretty appropriate in the same way that the finale to seinfeld was appropriate. there were definitely funnier episodes of both friends and seinfeld, but the series finale did a good job of providing the trip down memory lane and the closure that i think that finales should. more importantly both kept to the spirit of the show. seinfeld was ultimately about a group of people so outrageously self centered that it crossed over from offensive to hilarious and the final episode really drove that point home. friends is all about being young and single in the big city as you try to negotiate career, family, and romance. so like most fantasies of white middle class young single people, the series finale ended with ross and rachel getting together, ross with a great job, rachel with a career of some sort, and they also had a family. the mundanity of the finale i think fits in perfectly with this type of ending. in stark contrast would be the series finale of sex and the city, which totally violated the spirit of its show by appealing to the vulgar conceptions of what white middle class women want.

as far as sitcoms go, i hate to say it, but friends really was a phenomenon. you don't last ten seasons for sucking. the millions of crappy knockoffs that we all had to endure, like the single guy, caroline in the city, and coupling, is also a testament to its greatness. there are so few consistently funny sitcoms on network television, that it is not a good thing that we lose one that is. i, for one will miss friends if for no other reason than it was usually a pretty funny show.

5.10.2004

pat hill-collins: not that great.

so last thursday, instead of watching friends live with 52 million of my closest friends, i attended a lecture given by patricia hill-collins at school. for those of you who are unfamiliar, pat hill-collins wrote what is widely considered a seminal work in sociology circles called "Black Feminist Thought". from what i can tell, it is the most complete examination of how traditional feminist theories are completely grounded in white middle class culture and exclude women of color and other groups who might be affected by the oppression of women. it's a good read if you have the time, but on the other hands, i've read much better and interesting sociology books. in any case, she's a bona fide academic celebrity, so i wanted to go and see all what the fuss was about.

in any case, she was here to talk about her latest book, "Black Sexual Politics". the crux of her argument is that the representation and the constitution of black people in american society is inextricably tied to the image of the black person as a sexual deviant, which in turn, is tied to class. i won't go into the specifics of her argument, but i do have some general thoughts about the talk and on pat hill collins in general.

1. while it was a fairly good talk, it was a done on a rather elementary level. i guess that she had more undergrads in mind than grad students when she prepared this lecture. on the one hand, she is a funny person and a very engaging speaker. no monotone, no reading from a prepared essay, she even had a powerpoint presentation. on the other hand, she spent a great deal of time talking to us like we knew very little about race. one of her points was about the new racism, and she spent a great deal of time on it. perhaps i'm just a snob, but i think that it's a concept that most people who would want to go see pat hill-collins in the first place would know, so it almost seemed condescending that she would hold our hand through some basic stuff like that. i guess it's not a big deal and you never know what your audience is going to already know, but i found myself tuning out a little bit during this portion. (on another note, not that she was claiming credit for the concept of new racism, but how "new" is the new racism. balibar wrote about it in the nineties and william julius wilson, cornel west, et. al have been writing about it their whole academic lives. shouldn't we stop calling it "new"?)

2. she had some good points about how the archetypical characterizations of black people all revolve around some aspect of overt sexuality or undersexuality. the undersexuality is not something that i've thought of before, but her examples of the mammy or the sissy all make sense to me. however, overall, i'm still waiting for her to tell me something i don't know. the sexualization of black people i think is also something that has been thoroughly examined and studied.

3. she spent almost no time on what i was wanting to hear the most about, the link between these sexual identities and class. here, i understood her basic argument to be, lower class = over sexual, middle class = undersexual. of course, i think that this is somewhat problematic, since in this case, i really do think that race trumps class here, that for the most part, all black people will be represented or characterized by oversexuality. one of her examples were sports figures, particularly in her assertion that these characterizations emphasize hyperheterosexuality. i feel that often times, sports does the exact opposite in underscoring homoerotic themes, providing men an outlet to have emotions and desire for male bodies in a way that isn't overtly gay. anyways, mike tyson was one of her examples of how lower class black males = rapist. i asked her if kobe complicates this classification system since kobe represents a more middle class black male, and she basically didn't answer my question.

4. the worst part of the night was her "what do we do with this?" part of the talk. it came off as a pep talk to high school kids to go out and don't accept these characterizations. at the beginning she also stated that one of the main ways this ideology is reproduced is through the mass media, so i guess i should have known that i wouldn't agree with her since i almost wholly reject this argument. anyways, she came off sounding very naive and utopian, things that i generally hate (and envy) in people. at one point she said something to the effect of resisting these things by rejecting the mass media characterizations so that media corporations couldn't make money off of it. i muttered under my breath "heh-heh...too late...they've already co-opted both sides here".

5. she said that tiger woods was half white, at which point i turned to my asian friend helene sitting next to me and said, "ding...he's half thai." the crazy thing is that she probably could have made a better point with this argument since she was using tiger woods as an exemplar of the middle class black person, since asians are seen as the model minority who have been successful in assimilating.

overall, like i said, it was a decent talk. i probably should read her book to find out exactly what she means when she says that these sexual identities are tied to class. however, she also could have just as easily told me in her lecture. the point is academic celebrities are just like their hollywood counterparts. sometimes, its better that they remain separated from us adoring fans, since almost anything they do or say will end up disappointing us.

up next, the one you all been waiting for, what do i think about ross and rachel finally getting together.
blogger - new templates and commenting!

blogger just added more templates to their site and i thought that i'd try this darker, more pensive design. i guess they've also added commenting, which is nice, but no one ever comments on my posts, which makes me a huge loser i guess. anyways, i guess they preview recent posts, so i guess that i also have to start giving my posts titles, which is a pain in the ass, but hey, i do it all for you loyal customer. here at bob ngo chevrolet, customer satisfaction is #1! anyways, enjoy the new color scheme.
this is not the pat hill collins post, but www.tonyaharding.com really needed to be disseminated ASAP. click on the fantasies section for the most confusing and not-arousing internet material that i've seen in years.
so MLB backed off the spiderman on the bases thing. however, as the story goes, it turns out that they're only going to take the logo off the bases. there will still be spiderman stuff on the on-deck circle and on the pitching rubber before the game. let me take you through the progression of my feelings towards this whole issue.

1. anger and outrage - like most people, i was not happy with the idea of putting spiderman anywhere on the playing field.

2. hope and relief, immediately followed by even more anger and outrage - when baseball announced they they were backing off, i expected to read that they told the spiderman promoters something to the effect of "well, our fans aren't going for this, so we can't do this. here's your money back and good luck with the movie." well it turns out that they only agreed to take them off the bases. what really pissed me off is MLB's stance that they were doing this because they care about the fans and their opinion. i think bud selig or sandy alderson said something to the effect of "the purity of the game has been protected." first off, if MLB gave a flying crap about the fans, then games would be shorter, there would be tougher steroid testing and they'd keep the price of tickets down. second of all, the purity of MLB was never there in the first place. the fact is, they've always done this for money, and dammit, if they had thought of this in the 20's or 30's they would have tried it then as well.

3. calm reflection and acceptance - after distressing about the purity of the game, i thought to myself, what's so wrong with ads on the field. other sports do it all the time, and does that ruin the physical achievement of say a basketball game or a football game. if i am really watching the game, that stuff won't even register anyways, which i suppose is the point - having brands ingrained into our subconscious. but even beside, the point, how can i argue with MLB trying to make more money? like i've said before, it does no good of accusing a capitalist of being a capitalist. i've long argued that the idea of sports as an idealized form of american society is simply a myth used for making money. purity is found within the actual playing of the game itself, so as long as the gimmick doesn't interfere with how the game is played on the field, then fine, you can put big pictures of penises on the bases for all i care.

4. deeper introspection and higher academic context setting - for those of you who don't know, i'm probably going to write my dissertation on baseball stats geeks. my basic premise is that by consuming sports through numbers, one of the things that these people are trying to do is filter out any of the corrupting effects of the idealized vision of sports. if there's one place that spiderman can't show up, it's in the formula for league-adjusted ERA. so by focusing solely on the statistics, they are in a sense reclaiming that social space for what is good about sports. i'm not saying however, that these stats geeks don't buy into some of the crap, such as the masculinity/class/race hegemony of sports, but what they are doing is reshaping and reinterpreting the meaning of the game in a way that is in their minds closer to a happy happy joy joy conception of sports.

5. giggling

next post - Pat Hill Collins - important black feminist scholar or naive utopian blowhard?

5.07.2004

dammit, i've got three things to blog about, but i've got so much coding to do, it's not even funny. anyways, i'll try to parse out the writing over the weekend, and hopefully by monday you'll have heard about 1) how i feel about the whole baseball and spiderman deal, 2) a recap of a lecture by academic celebrity, patricia hill collins, and 3) the final episode of friends.

in the mean time, here is something to keep you busy.

5.06.2004

more proof that the source of all evil in the world is the privates. obviously, not the brightest sex offender. this is as good of an argument for capital punishment as i can think of.

5.05.2004

apparently, this guy was tougher than nails
and they say americans are pigs.
This can't be a good thing for baseball

5.04.2004

those record companies are just so full of shit. keep downloadin' everyone!
there's really just too much going on in the news today.

1. at least courtney love isn't hitting the smack again. in the picture, it looks like she just did a couple of lines.

2. grooooooooooooooooooossssss.
a long time ago, a really smart guy once wrote in a letter, "only in baseball can a man like george steinbrenner garner both my admiration and respect at the same time."

my favorite quote in this interview is on losing to the diamondbacks.
fun with iraqi children. chapelle's show fans should click on #14.

5.03.2004

real quick addendum to previous post. i forgot to mention that i thought that david carradine was just sublime as the title role of bill.
i finally got around to seeing kill bill vol. 2 yesterday, and i must say it was quite good. when i first left the theater i was thinking to myself "reservoir dogs and pulp fiction were better", but now that i've had some time to sit and think about it, it's probably tarantino's best movie yet.

this got me thinking about something else...well not really, cuz i think about this kinduv stuff all the time. vol. 2 is being fairly well received by critics and audiences, but it's not a good movie in the sense of the way say, eternal sunshine of the spotless mind is a good film. the reason why i liked eternal sunshine so much was because it was a movie that really makes you think. kb vol. 2 didn't really make me think about anything so much as i justed enjoyed the interesting dialogue and the great visual presentation (by the way, i've decided that uma thurman is uber-hot). i was wondering if you can even compare these films (the two best movies i've seen this year) at all since i think in essence, their ultimate goals are quite different? i mean come oscar time or at the end of the year, i'll probably be forced to make a decision on which i liked better, something that was thoughtful and entertaining, or something that was completely entertaining on a more visceral level. i can probably tell you right now, i'll go with being completely entertained. the point is, i liked kill bill vol. 2 so much that i wonder why i even go to see the other more traditionally artsy films (of which i don't get half of them. seriously, what was the deal with that scene in Talk to Her?) when i think that i infinitely enjoy films like kill bill more? actually what i'm saying is why do artsy film makers like the incredibly overrated stephen soderbergh always try to take the high road, Ocean's 11 notwithstanding, instead of really entertaining us in the way that's different from how say, Terminator 2 entertains us? why does everything need to go to this extreme level of symbolism and abstraction where the only people who get something out of it are intellectual blowhards who half of the time are just making shit up?

quentin tarantino is really a good film maker by the way. despite his extreme self-centeredness and his extreme nerdiness, i think he makes films in such a way, with such emphasis on stylistic elements that i feel that i understand film making better after i see one of his films. did i mention uma thurman is really hot?