6.10.2007

The Ragin' Asian has MOVED!

this blog has moved to:

http://raginasian.bobngo.com.

take a minute to update your bookmarks. don't worry about the updating the feeds, i've already taken care of that.

blogger, we had a good run, but i've outgrown you. it was real, but wordpress just has bigger boobs than you.

6.06.2007

6.05.2007

pardon the dust

i'm having trouble with my old template in terms of the rss feed, and i think it is because of the fact that i'm still using the old blogger templates. the template that you see now is temporary as i try to fix the old one. but even so, it's only a matter of time before i switch over to wordpress cuz i'm getting tired of blogspot's bs. anyways, i'll let you know when to update your bookmarks and update your feed. thanks for understanding.

the management.

6.03.2007

that's racist, yo! gary sheffield edition

according to an article in GQ, tigers outfielder and hellacious hitter, gary sheffield has a theory on why the percentage of african americans (8.5%) in the league is at its lowest level since they started counting in the mid eighties. he says
I called it years ago. What I called is that you're going to see more black faces, but there ain't no English going to be coming out. … [It's about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do -- being able to control them.

Where I'm from, you can't control us. You might get a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end, he is going to go back to being who he is. And that's a person that you're going to talk to with respect, you're going to talk to like a man.

These are the things my race demands. So, if you're equally good as this Latin player, guess who's going to get sent home? I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys.
i don't even know where to start. so is he saying that black people have no self control? that they have thin skin and that they perceive being told to open up your stance a little a form of disrespect? it's one thing to be racist towards another group, but you really take it up to another level, a level that i'm going to call, the "black entertainment television level," when you end up being racist towards your own racial group.

in sociology, this is an example of the ecological fallacy, which is extrapolating the actions of one unit of analysis, to a larger unit of analysis which the smaller unit of analysis is a member of. i.e. because gary sheffield is a malcontent hothead, all black people must be. see what i mean? you know it's weird, a lot of times whenever athletes say something about race, they are actually usually dead on and they just get criticized for "playing the race card." but in this case, gary sheffield is just...wait for it...wait for it...coming out of left field. you've been a great audience...don't forget to tip your waitresses...good night!

6.01.2007

public restroom philosophy


i found this bit of restroom graffitti in one of the bathrooms here at UCSB. i think it's amusing on many levels. ahhh, the joys of the higher education system.

5.31.2007

rules of celebrity

great picture taken from the confessional poet

looks like a-rod just found himself a whole new way to be publicly maligned. according to the story, a-rod's wife, cynthia, is leaving him because he was recently caught cruising around new york with some stripper. scandalous stuff. i could say some stuff about a-rod and how up to this point, his saving grace was that he was a saint off the field, but instead, i'm going to take this opportunity to share with all of you my rules of celebrity. these are rules that i think all celebrities stick to if they want to stay out of the tabloids. two of them apply to celebrities in general, but the other two are directed at athletes more general. and i'm telling you people, these rules are foolproof. if celebrities listened to me, the enquirer would go out of business. anyways, without further ado:

remember what happened to this guy when he stayed out too late? it's only worse for celebrities.

rule #1 - never stay out past midnight. you could also state this another way, nothing good ever happens after midnight. you never hear about a celebrity saving someone's life at 1AM, or a celebrity gets a big part in a movie at 3:30AM, or a celebrity has really good interaction with press/public at 2AM. it's always, so and so throws someone through a plate glass window, or so and so gets popped for possession of meth, or so and so get's arrested at girlfriend's apartment. i understand the need to party, and most normal people are able to stay out past midnight and have no problems, but if you're a celebrity why take that chance. especially when you can just have the party come to you. wanna hang out with strippers late at night? just pay them to come to the house. wanna get really wasted, just throw a big party at your house. rent a big hotel room. whatever. staying off the streets past midnight reduces your likelihood of getting trouble by about 4000%.

the celebrity's best friend

rule #2 - never drive a car. pay someone else to drive you around. a driver is really not that expensive and cabs and limos are a good investment. there's the obvious stuff, like drunk driving, or killing someone on the 405. but even if you're not doing that, if there's one thing that the cops can always pull you over for, it is traffic violations - busted tail lights, failure to use turn signal, whatever. the traffic violation is usually never a big deal. it's what happens after you get pulled over, cops find gun/drugs/kiddie porn. and if you're smart, you pay your driver enough where he or she knows to take the fall for you. you all saw traffic. think terrence howard's character wishes that he had hired a driver for that night?

the next two rules do apply to all celebrities but are especially directed towards professional athletes.

have you ever seen a more effed up kid than t.j. kidd (he's the one with the moustache)

rule #3 - do not get married. look, i understand that people fall in love and that sometimes, having a life partner is cool. however, i also understand that celebrity means special circumstances often put extra pressure on something that is already difficult to maintain. the divorce rate for the regular population is already at 50%. what do you think it is for celebrities? and you can sign all the prenups in the world, but the bottom line is, if something goes wrong with your marriage, which is always does, then you're on the hook for a lot of your money, not to mention the drama and the bad press you get during a divorce. you always hear that any good lawyer can get you out of a prenup. it's even worse here in california where the law dictates the other person always gets half.

speaking of effed up kids...

corollary A to rule #3 - if you're a dude, get a vasectomy. baby momma drama is never good. just ask tom brady or matt leinart. look, you can always adopt, freeze your sperm, or in some cases, get the procedure reversed. what you can't do is force someone to have an abortion, get out of paying hush money, or having your offspring from growing up to be a psycho and then writing a tell all book about how you are a terrible father. also, don't forget if you're young, how much trouble and time it takes to be a father. your bachelor lifestyle is substantially curtailed with the presence of a little one.

you betta watch yo ass pacman jones, cuz we be comin' for you!

rule #4 - do not under any circumstances, buy, own, or carry a gun. again, i'll use the logic that i used in rule #1. how often have you heard of a celebrity fending off would-be evil doers with their gun? how many bank robberies have been stopped by paris hilton pulling her gat out of her purse? now, if you want, you can still have someone in your posse carry a gun. i know, everyone is thinking, "what about pacman jones? he wasn't carrying a gun and look how much trouble he's in." well just think how much trouble he would be in if he were carrying a gun. besides, he was violating rule #1, so it's a wash. the point is, guns plus celebrity has never ever resulted in a good outcome.

anyways, i am sure that if celebrities followed these rules, the world would be a much safer place. it may seem like i'm only talking about the celebutards like paris and lindsay, but click on over to the smoking gun's celebrity mugshot archive, and you tell me how many of these pictures would never have been taken if these people followed these rules. mel gibson? broke rule #1 and #2. phil spector? rule #4. britney? rule #3 would have saved us all from k-fed. the cinncinatti bengals? multiple infractions, all rules.

so there's my good deed for the day. if there are any readers out there connected to celebrities, please direct them to this blog and tell them i said, "you're welcome".

5.26.2007

and I'm not talking about rosie o' donnell in a cop costume

since once upon a time, i posted about a giant catfish, i present to you:


that is one big effin' hog. that'll do pig...that'll do.

5.21.2007

what i've been working on

there's really no good excuse for my lack of blogging. i had some grand ideas way back about starting a podcast, but right now, i just don't think it is going to work. however, for those of you who might be interested, i am now working full time on the dissertation project. i've set up a website that has the basics of the project outlined. but probably of more interest to you blog reader, is that i have set up a blog that i'm going to use to keep track of my research. right now, it looks like ass and it's not very interesting, but as i start to collect data and make headway on writing it should be more interesting in a nerdy kind of way. so those of you who are interested in the Sabermetric movement in baseball and the emergence of statistics as a source of legitimate knowledge, go ahead and click on over.

i have to tell you, that probably a majority of my blogging efforts are going to be directed towards the new blog, but i'm going to try and make some time to post here more often. i can't promise anything, but i can promise to make a better effort.

tricia rose on hip hop

apologies for not posting - i've been busy dissertating. one day, i'm going to get a schedule running and i'll just force myself to blog at least once a week. anyways, last wednesday i went to see tricia rose give a talk entitled "is hip-hop dead?" it was an interesting talk and i thought that i'd share the highlights and some of my own thoughts. for those of you who don't know, tricia rose is a fairly well known scholar in the field of black studies. her book, black noise, is one of the first real academic studies on hip hop, and seems to be one of the standard texts that people engage in whenever they need to talk about hip-hop from an academic point of view. currently, she's a professor at brown university.

as shown by the don imus incident, people still seem to view hip hop and the hip hop culture as one that is morally bankrupt and one of the causes of the deterioration of the moral fiber of society. i know, i know, it sounds like an outlandish statement to most people, but when someone like don imus blames his racists statements on hip hop and then oprah feels compelled to have a town hall meeting on the subject, it can't be a good thing in most people's eyes. anyways, for rose, the problem is not the genre itself, which she acknowledges has lots of problems. rather, the problem is with the conversation on hip-hop. because of the assumptions and omissions of the conversation on hip-hop, we can't get to a place where we can really figure out what is going on.

basically, she said that you can't talk about hip-hop without being either labeled a hater or a defender of the thug lifestyle. if you criticize hip hop for being misogynist or destructive, then you are a hater. if you accuse critics of hip-hop of being racist, then you are blind to the effects of culture on people. in some ways, it is a straw man argument, that opposing sides are situated on extremes of a continuum and the right place to be is somewhere in the middle. but i think that in this case, it's not that far off. on the one hand, i do understand the problems with the types of hip-hop that are most prevalent in today's popular culture. on the other hand, i loves me some snoop-dizzle. and my experience of how most people view the hip-hop issue is in terms of black and white, no pun intended.

anyways, rose says the the one of the biggest problems in this conversation is the failure of either side of the debate to acknowledge capitalism's role in determining the development of hip-hop. that is, hip-hop, at least popular hip-hop, has developed the way it has because of the role of these media multi-national corporations, who are run by mostly white people, have had in determining what people will hear.

in other words, a lot of the stuff out there is very problematic. but there's a lot of stuff that isn't so problematic but never gets played. she used the example of lupe fiasco. here's an artist that the critics love, has the backing of major players in the hip-hop game (kanye west and jay-z), and is able to rap about relevant topics about the african american experience without resorting to the usual tired tropes of thug or gangsta. yet, we never ever hear him on mainstream radio.

i suppose that none of this is really new, that capitalism screws up everything, especially art. and as a sociologists, it is almost impossible for me to not consider the effects of capitalism on anything. however, at the same time, it does strike me that the discussion of capitalism are absent in most work done on hip-hop, because as rose says, it makes that discussion seem "inauthentic". while i'm not sure if that is true of the academic community, it is most certainly true of most cultural critics. when it comes to this particular cultural form, for most people it seems that most of the issues are not rooted in the economic machinations if the medium, but rather the racial machinations. hip-hop is seen as a "black" thing, therefore, the problems that it causes, are caused by blacks. now i doubt you would find someone who would say this outright, but if you read carefully how hip-hop is usually talked by cultural critics, that is most definitely the implication.

she also spoke about masculinity and the fact that the only kind of hip-hop that those who are in charge of producing and disseminating popular music is one that is marked by hyper-masculinity. as you can imagine, this struck a chord with me, as it seems that sports works in much the same way. with all of this in mind, it should not surprise anyone that sports, particularly basketball and hip-hop are intimately intertwined. the NBA culture is often described as a hip-hop culture, which means it is a hyper-masculine culture which conforms to the current hierarchy, both in terms of race and gender. and in my opinion, this is generally not a good thing.

what does this all mean? as usual, i have no real good answers. but what i do think that this demonstrates is that people still aren't comfortable talking about race in a meaningful way.
any comments on the topic are welcome.

5.11.2007

god bless black people

i'm very hesistant to post anything about the waste of time that is paris hilton going to jail, but this was too good not to post. enjoy.



link via best week ever.

5.07.2007

rocket is on the sauce

for those of you who don't get the reference in the title, click here.

anyways, as i'm sure most of you have heard by now, roger clemens is unretiring, or whatever you call it, for the thirteenth time to play for the yankees again. not that i care one way or the other, but it did get me thinking. pretty much every major sports columnists has written at least one column about barry bonds breaking hank aaron's record with the help of steroids. and yet as obviously as clemens is juicing, i feel that the press is essentially giving him a free pass on this topic. obviously, there are a lot of things going on here, bonds' general a-hole-ishness, the fact that he is about to break essentially the most hallowed baseball record, the whole perjury thing, his rocky relationship with the press, did i mention he was an a-hole? of course, i'm here to ask, what role does race play in all of this, because i contend that if clemens were about to break say, the all-time strikeouts record or the wins record, that he would not be held up to the same scrutiny as bonds. luckily, most of the other sports blogs that are written by non-mainstream sports media, have picked up on this and have made it abundantly clear that we think the rocket is roided out.

much has been made about a recent poll that indicated that 37% of baseball fans want bonds to break aaron's record, vs. 52% that don't want him too. i found these findings very curious because the press would have you believe that everyone except giants fans think that bonds is a travesty to the game. i would imagine if you polled all of the major sports columnists that there would be a much greater disparity between those who want bonds to break the record and those who don't. anyways, my point is, the media, in this case, in the form of the sports columnists and baseball writers, are not at all representative of the view of the general public, who seems to be at least moderately conflicted on this issue. even more instructive is the racial breakdown of the people rooting for barry and the people rooting against. 74% of black people want him to break the record vs. 28% of whites. my point is, for those people who insist that race has nothing to do with how bonds is treated by the press is simply out of touch with the general public. not to say that the fact that he's an a-hole doesn't mean anything cuz it obviously does. but just these simple statistics, if accurate, shows that race plays a large role in how the press and baseball fans view bonds.

clemens in 1986:

clemens in 2006:
you make the call.

p.s. in regards to the lack of posting: i'm working on something...something big, that is going to change this blog as you know it. stay tuned for details.

5.02.2007

a joke for computer geeks

how many angry digg users does it take to change a light bulb?

09-F9-11-02-9D-74-E3-5B-D8-41-56-C5-63-56-88-C0

sorry, just jumping on top of the dogpile.

5.01.2007

the nba is racist, yo

according to the new york times, nba officials have a racial bias! i use an exclamation mark because if this research by a penn professor, justin wolfers is correct, this is an extraordinary development. according to the article, white officials are more likely to call fouls on black players, and black officials are more likely to call fouls on white players. the difference is admittedly small (around 2-4% more fouls depending on your race), but in the bigger picture, what it means is that the outcome of a game can be determined by the racial makeup of the officiating crew and the racial makeup of a team.

i wish there was a link to the research so i can make a more definitive assessment of the methodology, but it seems that the LA times had the report examined by three independent stats experts and they all seem to agree that the research is legit.

what i find amusing is the league's response. according to the league, they've done their own research and that their research shows no bias with officials. while this response is predictable, it is made more remarkable when you take into account the the differences between the two research studies. the wolfers' research used data from 13 NBA seasons (1991-2004). the NBA's research used two years worth. the wolfers' research took into account, player position, and veteran status. the NBA's did not. the wolfers' research is done by an academic whose career is consumed by exploring these issues in a scientific manner. the NBA's research is done by an actuarial consulting firm, whose careers is consumed with getting paid by the NBA. the wolfers' research has made their data to anyone who wants to check it out for themselves ensuring accuracy and peer review. the NBA's research is supposedly "proprietary" for confidentiality reasons.

it seems pretty clear to me, who is probably closer to being right. i have to disclose that the NBA does have the advantage of having data on individual data, which it appears that wolfers' research does not. and this i find strange since i don't think it would have been that difficult for wolfers to have included this in his models. anyways, like any good business venture, the NBA is burying its head in regards to the social issues that surround its product.

my reaction of course is predictable and mirrors ian ayres, a professor at yale who reviewed the research for the la times, when he says
I would be more surprised if it (bias) didn’t exist. There’s a growing consensus that a large proportion of racialized decisions is not driven by any conscious race discrimination, but that it is often just driven by unconscious, or subconscious, attitudes. When you force people to make snap decisions, they often can’t keep themselves from subconsciously treating blacks different than whites, men different from women.
for more on this theory, click here to watch a dateline report on some very interesting research being done by those crazy cats at berkeley about subconscious racial bias.

basketball is the perfect setting for this by the way. more than any sport, race is crucially woven into the very fabric of the game. in football, it's hard to see race with a helmet on. in baseball, there really aren't enough black people. but no where is race more evidently embodied in players than in basketball. it makes perfect sense to me that race would influence the outcome of a contest.

anyways, from a regular fan standpoint, i've always been wary of the idea of league conspiracies enacted through poor officiating. however, after watching game 5 of the mavs/warriors series, where some very iffy officiating may have resulted in a win for the good guys, and coupling that with this video that popped up recently, i may have to rethink my position. either that or officials seem to think that dwayne wade is white.

4.26.2007

one ragin' asian analyzes another ragin' asian

i can't tell if that title is in bad taste....anyways, you know, i always find it better to wait for a couple of weeks before commenting on any issues. this gives you time to see how people react and in my mind, that's where the real good stuff for analysis comes from. so while this may seem untimely, i assure you, my opinion is better informed than any of those that came out the day after the virginia tech massacre.

before i give you my two cents on the virginia tech thing, i'd like to share a little bit about a presentation that i attended yesterday at school. this is gonna take a while, but it will make sense once i get into my point about the shootings.

troy duster, a well known sociologist came to ucsb and gave a talk on his research on the relationship between science and race. it was really good. no i mean it was really really good. he started off by talking about race-based strategies for dealing with some diseases. for example, it is common knowledge that african americans are at higher risk for a number of diseases such as sickle cell, diabetes, and heart disease. in 2005, the FDA approved the first race-targeted drug, bidil, a drug that has been shown to reduce heart disease in african americans. he said that this is indicative of an orientation towards the cause of the problem being inside the body. that is, there is something about the genetic makeup of african-americans that supposedly makes them for susceptible to heart disease, therefore, the answer is to correct what is inside. to him this sounded suspiciously like other rationales for racism, the idea that there is something inherently different about people of different races that causes them to act the way they do. so he did some digging, and found that drug companies are pouring a lot of money is being poured into research for a race specific drug for diabetes. he then found that of all the industrial nations, that germany has the highest incidence rate of diabetes and nigeria has the lowest rate. as duster nicely summed up, "i rest my case."

for those of you who are slow, he was basically saying that race-based orientation towards curing some diseases is a bunch of hooey. if race was the key factor in the incidence of this disease, then germany, which has one of the most ethnically homogeneous populations in the world would have no diabetes, and nigeria, where there are tons of people with much similar genetic makeup to african americans, would be teeming with diabetics. he went on to show how another study showed that within individual countries, the rural or traditional areas had almost no incidence of diabetes while urban areas always had rates of at least ten percent. yet science ignores all of this evidence and proceeds merrily along its more profitable way.

his overall point, was, why, when basically all evidence we have point to external factors in the rates of almost any disease, do we sink so much money into internal cures? specifically ones that target race, when any good scientist would say that the genetic makeup of different races has not been demonstrated to affect probability of getting a disease. think of all the money we have sunk into medical research with almost no real tangible results. heart disease, cancer, diabetes, AIDS...we're no closer to curing them then we were twenty years ago. meanwhile, we have pinpointed all of the social factors that go into causing these diseases. and still very little money goes into ameliorating the environmental and social causes of these disease. what makes this even goofier is that we actually have much more control over things like the environment and social conditions, yet we still look to a decidedly unobjective and decidedly more expensive science to solve our problems (for an especially good account of these issues play out in the world of cancer research, i will refer you to an article by barbara ehrenriech about her research on and experiences with breast cancer treatment). of course, this all is due to the fact that the internal research is more closely to what we define as "science", and the external is not. which obviously means that reliance on science to cure social problems and medical problems is a risky proposition, even by science's own standards.

anyways, there's been a lot of interesting takes on the fact that the shooter at virginia tech was korean. i.e. pop licks has keyed on to the fact that the press seemed keep calling cho a "korean national" despite the fact that he was basically raised an american. however, what i've sen the most of is pieces written by asians or koreans worrying about the coming backlash towards them. i.e. this editorial in the LA times by Ed Chang, professor of ethnic studies at UC-Riverside. i've also received several email forwards on the subject. but what really put it all together for me was reading an article in the crappy UCSB student newspaper, the daily nexus. again, it was a story on the fear of backlash towards the asian student population, and a quote from this story actually sums up all of these types of responses well:
The reactions Asians are having toward the shootings is that Cho was mentally ill, but non-Asians might bring into account Cho’s nationality.
and another quote
Altough Cho had a long history of mental illness when he commited his crime, members of the Asian-American community fear that the focus on his nationality - rather then his mental illness - will cause a public backlash against Asian Americans.
so after all that buildup, here is my point. i think that it is ok to spend a good amount of discussion about how his race and ethnicity played into cho's decision to kill these people. i liken the attempt by some asian groups to shift the focus to mental illness to the overall focus on solving medical problems on internal causes. was cho probably a little chemically imbalanced? of course he was, but there are plenty of chemically unbalanced kids in colleges and none of them went apeshit with guns. where i see race coming into play is cho's extreme sense of alienation. and from my own experience and the experience of many other asian males, and many other asian females, and many other people of color, i can say with great confidence that race plays a big factor in this alienation. and with that in mind, my question is why has it taken this long for something like this to happen?

so the external conditions, him being an alienated asian kid, combined with an internal condition, he being cuckoo, along with a host of other factors, i.e. he had a gun, he had a video camera, etc. all resulted in the single worst shooting spree in US history. which brings up another point that duster brought up. even within science, research for complex interactions are not well funded. what people want out of science are simple answers. this even carries over into my own training as a quantitative social scientist. in statistics, the goal is always the most parsimonious model (the model with the fewest variables). granted, the mainstream news media and their type of dumbed down/made to fit between commercials type of analysis only exacerbates the problem. but it seems clear to me at least, that the virginia tech massacre is the result of an extremely complex interaction between social, biological, and historical factors.

obviously, i agree with most of the asian critics who say we should not attribute this to race. to say that he did this because koreans are crazy is abundantly racist and stupid. and i understand that the threat of backlash towards the korean and the asian community is a real one.

however, to call for people not to talk about race, as if talking about race only involves racist talk, is the color blind discourse, which as i've gone over before, is racist itself. we can talk about race, and how racism may have contributed to cho's sense of isolation, can't we? to pretend that he wasn't korean, and that his experience as a korean american did not somehow play a role, is to bury one's head in the sand. i, and many others believe that in this country race plays a profound role in both determining and generating who you are. so i don't think it is at all inappropriate to bring up the question of race. while i understand where most of these asians that i have been reading are coming, i think that they are overreacting to say that people should not focus on race. because most likely, race probably played an important role.

4.19.2007

quick hits grab bag

howdy kids, sorry about that last post. i was in a pissy mood and i hate that i don't have more time to devote to this here blog. anyways, i've got more to post about the virginia tech thing, but i thought that i'd try to cleanse the palette with something i should try to do more regularly, let's everybody grab a spoon and let's dig into a big steaming bowl of quick hits!

1) the ncaa bans text messaging in recruiting. it's nice to see that the folks with the NCAA are keeping up with the times. i'm glad they they closed this loophole as i'm sure all of the coaches were exploiting this loophole. i just wish someone would ask a coach about violating the spirit of the recruiting rules. cuz like i said, if they were all doing it, which they were, then all of the coaches are a bunch of big douchebags. next up for the NCAA, cracking down on coaches passing notes to recruits in class.

2) more jurisprudence! the supreme court, after turning back the clock on women's reproductive rights, is now taking time to review a case where a private school sent letters to prospective grade schoolers. the local high school athletic association ruled this as illegal recruiting and fined and sanctioned the school. the school argued that their freedom of speech was being violated. what a bunch of, say it with me folks, douchebags. on a strange note, the court seems to be leaning towards ruling against the private school, with the support of the white house. so it's ok to force women to have babies but it's not ok for private schools to poach public school football talent. i don't understand.

3) our long national nightmare has ended. farewell ethnic/gender ambiguous indian songstress. good luck with your drag queen career. actually the funny thing is that the joke is on us, because as soon as all this is done, sanjaya is going to be riiii-ech biiii-etch!

4) this just in, the supreme court can't stop, it won't stop. it has recently ruled on when the state of michigan will hold it's girls' volleyball season. the genesis of the case was that the michigan high school sports association changed the girls' volleyball season to winter to match up with other states. their rationale was it would assist with athletes who are being recruited into college. some schools sued under title IX saying that moving the season would result in fewer girls playing volleyball since many other women's sports were being played at the same time. i have nothing to say except this is one of those rare cases where local interests and the true spirit of sports won out over college and financial interests. i tell you, ever since sandy o' connor retired, i just don't know what to expect from that wacky supreme court.

5) bono and the edge to write music for spiderman the musical?! ummm...let's just say that i'm not real happy about this.
am i buggin' you?

Ok campers, that's all i got for now. i'm headed to vegas this weekend. when i get back, i promise, we're gonna break down the virginia tech thing in great great detail. that is, if i don't win the wheel of fortune jackpot in vegas, in which case, see you a-holes in hell!

4.16.2007

not going anywhere

i got to be honest with you guys...i got pretty close to shutting this thing down. i just get tired of feeling guilty for not having the time to comment on every relevant sports or pop culture thing. to be honest, a lot of what i write is much better written by other popular mainstream blogs, but this whole viriginia tech thing may buy you o faithful blog reader just a little more time with me.

so i'm watching cnn today, and like everyone else, i'm trying to figure out what the FUCK is going on in blacksburg. they bring on some experts to provide some commentary and context to what is going on and one of the experts is a gun control advocate. now just to be clear, i'm all for reducing the number of guns to people. if that takes laws, then i say pass em, and let's put gun companies out of business. anyways, the anchor asks the gun control guy this question: "would stricter gun laws saved lives today?" are you effin kidding me? how is this question helpful in understanding what happened today. i am instantly infuriated. but then the gun control guy, without hesitation says, "i think it's clear that is the case." i now want to unload an uzi into the anchor and gun control guy.

call me crazy, but i think that gun control is not the problem here. shouldn't the question be, how did we as a modernized civil society, allow one guy to get to the point where he thought his only option was to go in and kill as many people as he could as fast as he could. again, i'm not saying that guns didn't have anything to do with anything, but the whole logic behind saying that a different gun law would have prevented this seems so obtuse to me.

i don't know how well i'm communicating my point, but what i'm trying to say is that we watch the news and when something like this happens, it should give us all pause and make us really reflect about where the hell did we go wrong and how do we make it so that we can get better. but all i see is pointing fingers and things getting worse. and worst of all, i see the reaction and the measures taken to be the exact opposite of fruitful dialog or action.

take don imus for example. isn't it transparent that don imus' firing had nothing to do with showing people that such racist attitudes won't be tolerated and more with networks not wanting to lose advertising dollars? i mean shouldn't we still be boycotting these outlets for letting imus say much worse up to this point. what about howard stern, who uses the n-word all the time...where are the calls for boycotts against xm or sirius? why don't these people go after rush limbaugh or bill o'reilly who have also said much worse. and why didn't these people work with imus, who in my opinion seemed genuinely contrite and went so far as to go and talk to the rutgers women's basketball team and apologize in person. again, i happy that imus got fired, he needed to, but saying that finally getting him off the air is a sign of progress is ignorant. it is the opposite. the fact that he got fired a week after he made the comments means that no one really cares what anyone thinks, as long as money is still rolling in.

it just seems to me that reaction to the media events or horrible things like the tragedy in blacksburg has nothing to do with really trying to change things. i know this sounds like a rant, but i think it's been a bad few weeks for the media and for the country. i was already in a bad mood about how the imus situation was playing out in both real life and in the media, and then i saw that cnn clip today and i felt like i had to write something. stuff like the tragedy at virginia tech should shock us and make us feel bad about the world, and want to work to change it. but that is not what i see. i see people pretending to be shocked and pretending to feel bad, but in reality, all they are really doing over and over again are asking, "what about me?" and as long as people ask that question, this blog will be here to call these d-bags out on it.

4.06.2007

sanjaya roundup

hello blog denizens. i apolgize for the lack of posts recently, between the end of another academic quarter, spring break, and the beginning of another academic quarter, i've been a little busy. and of course, lazy. i've finally advanced to candidacy in my PhD program, so don't forget to vote for me, now that i'm a candidate. that's such a bad joke, but i've been shoe-horning it in whenever i can. i also had a birthday, so thanks to all who participated in the festivities, which is basically no one. anyways, i contemplated ending this blog madness once and for all by taking an indefinite hiatus. not that anyone really reads this blog, but sometimes i get tired of feeling guilty for not commenting on the interesting sports and pop culture news from a sociological perspective. but there's a certain off-tune south-asian crazily-coiffed subject out there that needs commenting on.

by now, it is basically impossible to read any thing pop culture related without reading about how sanjaya malakar, the worst american idol finalist in years, has taken the country by storm. and much has been written trying to explain sanjaya-mania in terms of a broader cultural zeitgeist. how does someone sooooooo very bad at singing become a pop culture phenomenon? i'll summarize other people's arguments and then present another viewpoint.

1) alex blagg at best week ever ponders the revolutionary power of sanjaya:
...we sincerely HATE Idol, and thus want to see it fail. Sanjaya winning the competition - an unlikely scenario that inches closer and closer towards probability by the minute - would be the arrow through Idol’s Achilles Heel, destroying the legitimacy and relevance of the competition - the lynchpins on which the whole show is held together - by exploiting its democratic nature to expose it’s inherent fraudulence. If Sanjaya can win (even though he doesn’t deserve to), just because a bunch of people who don’t sincerely care about the outcome of the competition think it would be funny if he did, why should anyone bother caring about who else has won, or will win in the future?
this echoes a sentiment that my former pop life (most popular pop culture talk radio show in santa barbara area in the early aughts) co-host JP related last weekend. basically, american idol has been a complete pop culture juggernaut for the last six years. it has laid waste to two mediums, television and music, destroying anything in its path. and this is the slingshot that can bring it down. if sanjaya wins, the show becomes meaningless as an arbiter of american tastes. and while i'm hopeful that this is the case, i'm not sure i'm entirely convinced that america will come to its senses and stop watching idol. let's not forget, sometimes idol can be really entertaining television. i've never bought an album by one of the american idol contestants (and lord knows that there are enough of them out there), but i still watch cuz 1) it's fun to watch people fail and 2) who doesn't like to hear really good singers sing...and there have been plenty of legitimately talented singers on the show.

2) oliver wang at pop licks, not surprisingly, explores the race angle, and what it means to asians and the perception of asians in pop culture:
When Paul Kim became a finalist on this season's American Idol, it set off a light bulb for a NY Times writer to probe the question of why Asian Americans are missing from the pop music field. That story became "Trying to Crack the Hot 100" which appeared at the beginning of March (you can read it here). Several days later, WYNC's Soundcheck followed up with their own take on the story: "When East Doesn't Meet West". Once again, Paul Kim was the "hook."

What is striking about both stories is that by the time they ran/aired, Paul Kim was already voted off Idol and this actually served to "prove" the point of both stories - Asian Americans can't get a break. Without debating that claim - it's true enough - what I found striking...and a little perturbing...is that neither made mention of the fact that even though Kim was gone, there were still two other Asian Americans amongst the finalists: AJ (who is mixed Filipino/Chinese/etc.) and of course...the South Asian wunderkind Sanjaya...for whom "flexibility" would be an understatement in the many ways his racial "passing" allows him to occupy multiple social spaces at once.
again, while i agree with the overall gist that people simplify race and it affects the kind of pop culture that is produced, i don't necessarily think that you can classify sanjaya as asian. while i know that as a person of indian descent, that technically makes him an asian, i don't think that when most people hear the word "asian" they think of someone who looks like sanjaya. they think of someone who looks like me, or like jackie chan. perhaps it is a failing using a continental label like "asian", but i find it curious that i should find some solidarity with sanjaya when his ethnic experience is not nearly the same as a vietnamese person as it would be with a korean or chinese person. after all, it's not like canadians and mexicans all identify under the label "north-american".

3) ann powers in the la times considers sanjaya's popularity in terms of his similarities to other teen idols, particularly in how sanjaya is actually a gigantic wuss.
Tween and teen stars appeal to girls just beginning to explore their sexuality; their fantasies gravitate toward the familiar. Familiar is female. Sanjaya's awkward stance and undaunted prettiness are sweetly girlish; where the other male contestants lamely swagger, he poses and smiles.
as much as i have professed to hating ann powers, i find that in my old age, i like her writing more and more, and i think she has a point here. little girls prefer non-threatening males. it is only later on in life that they seem to be attracted to macho a-holes. however, to equate sanjaya to andy gibb and pete wentz seems like a stretch. to say that his ethnicity doesn't affect how people perceive him is something that predictably, i don't think is possible.

4) zach braff weighs in on sanjaya, in a way that only gigantic d-bags like zach braff can. it makes me not want to have anything to do with sanjaya.

i wanted to propose one more viewpoint that is endorsed by my roommate and fellow blogger, erik love. he thinks that all this talk about sanjaya's social significance is completely contrived by the producers of american idol. he thinks that the producers realize how polarizing someone like sanjaya can be, and that the controversy can only increase attention to the show, which has taken a slight dip in ratings. sanjaya is the train wreck that we can't take our eyes off of, but in the big picture, there's no way that they'll let sanjaya win. even if he gets more votes, when it comes down to determining who will go on to represent american idol in record contracts and future shows, the better singer will advance so that the producers can say, "see, american idol does work and the more talented person beat the sideshow". this makes a certain amount of sense as well. after all, there have been many reports in seasons past of voting irregularities. and like all game shows or reality-type shows, we know that everything we see is very produced. while we know that people actually do solve puzzles and win money, you know that someone controls the wheel on wheel of fortune and when someone wins too much money, they just happen to spin "bankrupt". same goes for idol.

as much as i want to believe that something like idol will implode upon itself, i have to admit that erik's scenario makes the most sense. which scenario is more likely? scenario 1 - the producers of idol are manipulating the public and generating ratings for their show via the spectacle of sanjaya. or scenario 2 - ironic hipsters who hate idol will get off of their collective apathetic asses and vote for sanjaya en masse and cause the normal idol watching demographic to question the authenticity of pop culture institutions like american idol. yeah, if i were in vegas, i'd definitely bet on scenario 1.

3.15.2007

angelina and i are related now

in case you didn't hear, angelina continued here world wide kid shopping spree and adopted a vietnamese kid, which in my mind makes angelina my 3rd or 4th aunt. is it wrong to want to see your 3rd or 4th aunt naked? anyways, per the story:
Vietnamese press claim that that the boy is named Pham Quang Sang and will be renamed Pax Thien Jolie. Pax means "peace" in Latin and Thien is "sky" in Vietnamese.
now i don't know if the press is reporting the translation of the name, or if that is what vietnamese officials have told the press, or if angelina picked out the name, but i can tell you with some degree of accuracy, that "thien" does not translate into "sky". now granted my own vietnamese skills are rather poor, i recall the vietnamese equivalent of sky to be "trời". after conferring with my sainted mother, whose vietnamese skills are much better than mine or angelina's, she confirmed this. according to my mom, "thien" refers to spiritual sense of sky, as in heaven. it can also be used to mean god, as in the judeo christian god. but most people use trời in everyday conversation. furthermore, i believe that thien is a common name for dudes as i seem to recall some of my mom's friends being named this. and if my mom isn't a good enough authority for you, perhaps this website will be. anyways, i just wanted to set the record straight.

also, the renaming of the kid strikes me as curious. he's three years old and presumably has been answering to sang quang (remember, in east asia, the last name comes first), but apparently that wasn't good enough for vietnamese officials or angelina, so they had to give him a freakin lame name like pax. what was so wrong with the name that he already had? they may as well name the kid Whitey McIamnotvietnamese.

you know, i think that generally angelina gets a hard time for being a humanitarian. from what i can tell, she actually does take the time to go to places and see first hand for herself what is going on. and i guess that awareness is being raised. so i think that she doesn't get lauded enough for her efforts. however, not getting something as simple as the translation of the kid's name correct doesn't help the perception that she's just baby crazy like that deputy trudy weigel (fast forward to 1:46 to see what i'm talking about).

3.07.2007

britney back to being harmless crazy woman

i was pretty suspicious of the news source, but it turns out that britney didn't do all of that crazy shit. which is good, cuz now she's back to just annoyingly crazy and i can now continue to objectify her and hope that she poses naked some day. but it sure was fun to waste time with photoshop!

3.05.2007

the britney spears story enters natasha lyonne territory

i don't know how reliable this news source is, but apparently, britney spears is possessed by the devil. either that or she's gone completely batshit. per the story
Britney Spears has flipped her lid in rehab, trying to hang herself with a bedsheet after screaming "I am the anti-christ" to frightened staff.

She made the demonic cry after scrawling the devil's number "666" across her head.
ummmm.....wowsers. this story has taken a dark turn. i think a lot of us were having fun with this story just thinking that britney's shenanigans were maybe just the result of youthful indiscretions, but it could be that we're looking at a serious mental disease here. ughh.

p.s. if you don't get the natasha lyonne reference, do yourself a favor take a few minutes to read michael rappaport's (yes, that michael rappaport) article in Jane magazine about her (page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4). i promise, it's worth it.

2.27.2007

ragin' asian fun fact

guess who has a bigger head?

according to this, i do. in the latest edition of game of shadows, the book on barry bonds and the steroid era of baseball, the authors include an afterword that give us this:
the authors detail in their afterword the freakish growth of Bonds' body parts in his years with the Giants: from size 42 to a size 52 jersey; from size 10 1/2 to size 13 cleats; and from a size 7 1/8 to size 7 1/4 cap, even though he had taken to shaving his head.
my cap size? 7 1/2. like bonds, my head has actually grown since college, when i wore a 7 3/8. but unlike bonds, i haven't hit 700+ homers while injecting horse sperm into my bloodstream...that and i'm not a douchebag.

anyways, also keep in mind that barry is 6' 2", and i'm a full eight inches shorter. this post is not so much about barry and his obvious steroid use, as it is about my own freakishly big noggin. i always knew that my head was kinda big, but with this discovery, i'm bordering on circus freak. what the hell is wrong with me!?

i'm very troubled by the fact that my head is bigger than barry's. i think i probably need to go see a doctor about this. god, no wonder my knees hurt when i work out, it's all the extra stress of having to carry this pumpkin around all day.

2.26.2007

point/counterpoint - NBA allstar weekend in Las Vegas

in honor, (or rather dishonor) of the oscars, i present to you two columns for your consideration.

first, jason whitlock's column
The Black Ku Klux Klan shows up in full force and does its best to ruin our good time. Instead of wearing white robes and white hoods, the new KKK has now taken to wearing white Ts and calling themselves gangsta rappers, gangbangers and posse members.

Just like the White KKK of the 1940s and '50s, we fear them, keep our eyes lowered, shut our mouths and pray they don't bother us.

Our fear makes them stronger. Our silence empowers them. Our lack of courage lets them define who we are. Our excuse-making for their behavior increases their influence and enables them to recruit more freely.

We sing their racist songs, gleefully call ourselves the N-word, hype their celebrity and get upset when white people whisper concerns about our sanity.
problematic, to say the least.

but dave zinn counters
Jason: it's time for you and your sports writing brethren, all hot and bothered over All Star Weekend, to take a long overdue reality check. You rail against the violence of NBA "posses" yet turn your back to the fact that this is one of the most violent nations on earth. This is a country that imprisons 2 million of its citizens. This is a nation that spends 1.7 billion dollars a day on the military. This is the country that started an unnecessary war in Iraq that's killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and more than 3,000 troops. Surely a fan of Rosa Parks like yourself is familiar with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, "I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government."

As you heroically churn out columns in between trips to the local gentleman's club, a very real world beats with injustice. Black unemployment is three times that of whites. Unemployment today for young Black men aged sixteen to nineteen tops out at more than 30 percent, double that of young whites. And the latest Bush budget will mean all of this will get worse.

By devoting your column to the amplification of the worst racial stereotypes, you actually divert attention from the real issues Black America faces. In this post-Katrina world, it should be all too clear that the problem is institutionalized racism and poverty, not a kid in baggy jeans.

well put i say, but is Jason completely wrong? sure the thug element is the result of decades of systematic oppression, and whitlock's black KKK analogy seems a bit disingenious, but does that excuse the behavior of those in las vegas this weekend? seriously, that weekend, people got shot.

anyways, just two points of view for us to ponder. feel free to leave comments.

2.25.2007

the ragin' asian reviews the 2007 oscars

worst. oscars. ever.

the NFL enters foucault territory

not content to dominate the sports cultural and economic landscape in the US, the NFL is now attempting to dominate language. as i mentioned earlier, the NFL has trademarked the word "Super Bowl" and aggressively protects that trademark by doing things like sending cease and desist letters to churches who are having super bowl parties. however, they've taken the next step and are attempting to trademark the phrase "the big game".

of course, on the surface, this as dumb as donald trump trademarking the phrase "you're fired". i argued for trump, and i'll argue now that it just makes no sense to me to allow people or entities to trademark phrases that are already a part of the vernacular. also, from a business point, it seems to be a slap in the face of fans. i can at least kind of understand the trademarking of super bowl, since bars and such can make money off of the intellectual property of the NFL by advertising a "super bowl party"....which sounds a lot more fun than "a final game of the NFL post season party". which is what bars end up doing anyway.

but from a meta-perspective, this is a bit of evil genius by the NFL. think about it, if they are able to control the phrase "the big game" and make it only apply to football, it essentializes "the big game" to only apply to football. game 7 of world series or the NBA final can no longer be referred to "the big game". what this does is marginalize the other sports, while reinforcing the idea that football is the only sport that matters. as foucault will tell you, language matters, and clearly the NFL understands this point and is doing their damndest to apply this concept in their attempt to take over the world.

link via deadspin

p.s. yes i know i'm a douchebag for bringing in foucault into this.

2.22.2007

sports quick hits



these actually aren't so quick and i should probably just do a separate post on hardaway and kobe, but whatevs....you should be thankful that i'm even writing anything.

1) women are now going to receive the same prize money as men at wimbledon this year. this is most definitely a sign of progress, as the idea that men's tennis is as popular or entertaining as women's tennis has been obsolete for about ten years now. however, it should be noted that wimbledon is the last major to equalize pay for men and women, and so while we should feel good about this development, we should also say condescendingly to wimbledon officials, "it's about freakin' time".

2) scoop jackson has an in depth interview with tim hardaway concerning him hating gay people. it is interesting and taken at face value, it does seem that timmy is at least a little bit contrite. however, there are several things about this piece that make me skeptical. first, scoop even lays it out himself in the first paragraph
See, Timmy Hardaway and I grew up together, been tight for over 30 years, family linked through blood and love. So when the fallout unfolded after he said on Dan Le Batard's radio show that he hates gay people, I felt the right thing to do would be toss the man a life preserver.
to be fair, the interview is not a puff piece and jackson does well not to lob only softballs at hardaway. however, at the same time, jackson's intent, as stated above, was to give hardaway a chance to redeem himself. which leads us to hardaway's responses in this interview which is best summed up by this quote
Right now, learning. Learning that gay people are really no different than a lot of other people. Learning that they work hard, they do things in the community, they are responsible for building parks, rec centers, providing safe environments for kids, just things I had never associated with them before. [This last week] has opened up my eyes to the gay population and what they do. I'm getting a lot of knowledge about them that I didn't have. Which is going to make me a better person.
call me a cynical bastard, but this is publicist speak. and if you ever say hardaway when he was an analyst on ESPN, you know that the notion that tim came up with this statement himself is far fetched. but even if he did come up with that statement by himself, in the same interview this little exchange occured
But still you have issues with gays?

I still don't accept their lifestyle. No.

And you stand on that?

Yes. You know, we were brought up to not even condone or associate yourself with a gay person. If you knew of a gay person, disassociate yourself with them.

But Tim, you've been in Miami for years now and there is a strong and public gay community there. How have you still held on to that same mentality while living in Miami all of these years?

I just get away from it. I just walk away. I see it, I just go the other way, cross the street.

So at no point did you ever try to understand their lifestyle or way of life?

No. Never did. Never wanted to.

Do you want to now?

No. I don't want to … try to find some type of understanding of why they live the way they live or why they are the way they are. Maybe I could go to therapy, maybe someone can help me out with understanding [them], the sensitivity of the issue. But as a person, my beliefs are my beliefs. I don't have to condone it and I don't have to be around it. But I don't have to hate it either.

yeahhhhhh.....sorry to break the news timmy, but you still hate gay people. i've seen at least two major basketball writers (dammit, i can't find the other one), say that we should back off because he sounds really sorry about the whole flap, but i'm going to be one of those people who call BS on timmy. again, i'll use the black thing, if someone said they hated black people, and then later apologized, but said that they still stand by their assertion that black people suck, it wouldn't stand. the same should apply for the GLBT community.

3) a great essay on kobe, and his somewhat ambivalent place in a hip-hop driven NBA. the comments are even good
It was Iverson. He introduced and authentic and marketable new archetype that made MJ's blueprint of incessant smiles and Republican pandering obsolete. Kobe didnt find that out until it was too late. Great read. Back to the drawing board.
nice stuff...

4) this isn't sports related per se, but interesting nonetheless. a study says that playing video games results in better surgeons. i guess on the surface it makes sense, since playing video games develops hand eye coordination and concentration skills.

5) i don't know why i find this so funny. actually, i do. i'm going straight to hell.


p.s. almost forgot, what what in the butt

2.20.2007

major announcement, re: britney playboy prediction



i've been conspicuously quiet on all of this britney spears nonsense. i guess i feel that this is really not that different from any of her other bizarre behavior over the years. really, is shaving your head really that different from getting married to no talent ass clowns or flashing your vajayjay all over the place. you know, obviously these things are really bad ideas, but nothing that you can't fix with lawyers, wigs, or panties.

i did want to comment a little on the media coverage of britney's latest round of meltdowns. you're probably like me, you know that there are much more important things that britney shaving her head, but you just can't get enough of the stories. but really, is there a need to talk to the lady who owned the hair salon where she decided to go uncle fester on us?

anyways, my roommate k was commenting that she thought that much of the coverage was a bit unfair in that everything was couched in terms of how britney's behavior is inappropriate for a mother. as if mother's were supposed to stop going out and stop consuming alcohol after they give birth. it reinforces a patriarchal idea that motherhood = losing your identity as a sexual being. which of course all feeds in to the idea that it is ok for men to discard their wives after they give birth to kids and run off with some bimbo half their age. which is totally unfair. this notion is nothing new, but it is most definitely reinforced with everything going on with britney.

now don't get me wrong...i'm one of those people who very strongly believe that once you do have kids, that you do have to in fact, give up some things that someone without kids doesn't have to. britney doesn't have to party every night without underwear. and in fact, i don't think she should. however, the reification of britney has made us forget, that she is only 25 years old, and i know plenty of 25 year old who were just as screwed up, if not more so than britney. and it just seems real harsh to label a 25 year old the worst mother ever. curiously enough, all the talk about federline being a bad father and such has seemed to disappear. i know, she is much more famous and he's been out of the limelight for a while, but it does seem a bit unfair. seriously, you think justin timberlake doesn't knock out as much tail as possible...he hooks up with scarlett johannsen and jessica biel and nobody calls him a man-whore.

anyways, like other people, it seems that she is seeking help (again). and like any other person, i wish her the best in her rehab. maybe it's me, but it seems like no one is rooting for her to get through this. i know, rehab seems to be the generic public relations move and who knows how serious she is about cleaning herself up. but britney if you're reading this, get better, clean yourself up. the sooner you do that, the sooner you can get yourself into playboy.

the last time i brought this up, i said that she'd be in playboy by the end of 2008. like trying to figure out the cowboys chances of getting back to the super bowl, there is just too much turmoil right now to make any kind of good prediction. it seems that there are plenty of signs that favor my prediction, but at the same time, i never would have predicted that she'd go apeshit and shave her head for no reason. that said, i'm going to have to take the 2008 prediction off the board until i get further information about her cleaning herself up. it's like the whole ice caps melting and putting los angeles and new york under water. you know it is inevitable, and everything that we are doing in terms of climate control indicate that the situation is not getting any better. but we just have no idea when it is going to happen.

lastly, i'd like to offer an optimistic take on the shaved head. often times, we as humans feel the need to mark inner transformation with a physical transformation. i know that i've shaved my head plenty of times to mark transition periods. so maybe this britney felt that she would mark her independence from drugs, alcohol, bad men, or whatever it is she is going to rehab for, by shearing her locks. sure it's far fetched, but we've seen weirder things.

p.s. teaching yourself photoshop is a great way to procrastinate.

2.18.2007

sports quick hits



1) ESPN downsizes number eighty-eight. the rumor was that ESPN thought cocaine mike irvin was a bad public relations meltdown waiting to happen. on the one hand, i can't blame them, after all, this is the playmaker that we're talking about, on the other hand...well, there is no other hand because he was becoming unbearable as a football analyst.

2) the NBA all star festivities were this weekend, and a couple of things to note. first, i've said this before, and i'll say it again, how can anyone not like shaq.

deadspin put it the best, "who's gonna do this stuff after shaq retires?" also, i'd like to remind people that it shouldn't surprise that shaq can dance. after all, after hakeem, he is the most agile big man we've ever seen (and don't forget that shaq is toting 100 more pounds than the dream).

3) the dunk contest was actually lots of fun. of course, everyone is buzzing about dwight howard's sticker dunk. if you don't know what i'm talking about, press play below:

12 and a half freakin' feet. not to get all fanboy on you, but that's just sick. granted, he's a seven footer to start with, but man alive. what i really like is how creative the whole think was. think about it, he had to take the cheesy picture, get someone to photoshop it onto the sticker, go out and buy the sticker paper, print up the picture, and have someone get a tape measure for jameer nelson to emphasize the shtick. that my friends is good planning for a good comic bit. he really got jobbed on the scoring as he didn't advance to the final round. the sheer comedy value of the whole thing should have gotten him perfect tens all around. as if the fact that he placed a sticker higher at a height that is greater than two of me stacked on top of each other wasn't enough. however, i think that justice was served because after he put the sticker on the backboard, we were reminded during every subsequent dunk of the ridiculousness of his feat.

it also got me thinking a little bit and it's inspired me to start an official "rules of comedy". these rules are just things that are always funny. rule #1 of course is that monkeys in people's clothes is always funny.

rule number two of course was articulated perfectly on howard's sticker. rule #2....


please feel free to suggest more rules of comedy for my consideration

p.s. ironically, the best place on the web to find pictures of monkeys in people's clothes are animal rights websites that are trying to stop the (hilarious) practice of monkey's wearing people's clothes.

2.16.2007

the ragin' asian goes to see Chuck D


my cell phone camera sucks.

on thursday, i was able to go see the incredible, rhyme animal, the unpinnable...D! that is, chuck d, leader of the seminal political rap group public enemy. and seriously, if you didn't already know that, you should be ashamed of yourself. anyways, the good folks at the ucsb multicultural center brought him in to talk about a bunch of random things. he has a new book out i guess, but pleasantly enough, promotion of the book at the event was minimal. in fact, chuck d didn't even mention the book until the very end of the night.

anyways, i was there for the same reasons that anyone who is interested in popular culture and anyone who came of age in the mid eighties. but more than anything, i wanted to have one question answered. this question revolves around everyone's favorite clock wearing, viking helmeted hype man, flavor flav. you see everytime i saw flavor of love on VH1, i felt sad. i mean here was the man who taught me that 911 is a joke, and here he is, reduced to reality's own minstrel show. and i always, wondered, "man, i wonder what chuck d thinks of all of this?" well, he addressed the issue and i have to tell you the answer was somewhat surprising. i was expecting chuck to be disappointed and all of that stuff, but it turns out, my own disappointment with flav's behavior was somewhat misguided.

chuck's opinion basically boiled down to one of public enemy's greatest songs: don't believe the hype. according to chuck, what we saw was flav being flav, and the entity that we should direct our ire against is not flav, but VH1. and now that i think about this, it makes total sense. we all know that despite the moniker, reality tv is all but reality. it is heavily edited and while flav may seems wheels off, it is the way that the show is edited that makes it seem like flav perpetuates every bad stereotype of black people. in fact, chuck said that all of this was flav's own private joke on the television industry. for example, did you know that flavor flav has a girlfriend? her name is liz, and she apparently isn't happy about some of the stuff that went on during the show, but liz and chuck are still an item. in fact, chuck said that flav is mocking all of those stereotypes by even exaggerating his behavior. i'm a little bit skeptical of the whole meta-satire angle, but since chuck d probably knows flavor flav than i do, i've come to the conclusion that i have no reason not to believe him.

anyways, i'm satisfied with this answer and i can now restore flavor flav to hip-hop visionary and revolutionary.

one more flavor related item that was discussed was his appearance on strange love, the brigitte nielsen/flavor flav show. the show made it seem that chuck was put off by brigitte, particularly at a PE concert. chuck said that he had no problem with brigitte being on stage, and the only people he was pissed off at was the tv crew who didn't adhere to the guidelines that he and flav set down before the show started. the way he talked about brigitte seemed very genuine. i believe his exact words were "he crazy, she crazy, so they're perfect for each other".

anyways, other than that, it was what you would expect from a talk by chuck d. he talked about politics, the music industry, and racism. one more interesting anecdote that he related was that he grew up in the same neighborhood as eddie and charlie murphy. he was discussing charlie's new found success, and he said that charlie was always the funniest guy in the room, but "the only thing was, he'll rob you too." good stuff.

2.14.2007

tim hardaway hates gay people

no really, he said so himself. his quote on a radio show:
You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.
as i said before just two posts previous to this one, here's an opportunity to confront the issue of sports/homophobia/masculinity head on. imagine if a pro-athlete said that he hated people of color...oh wait, john rocker did and i don't think it turned out good for him. let's see if the same thing happens to hardaway.

again, i'll reiterate my point: sports writers and sports franchises would have you think that sports is ok with gay people in it. this quote shows that some athletes clearly aren't. so let's really write about it and ask athletes why they hate gay people so much. however, i suspect that hardaway will get a pass on this. which is stupid, since it is essentially the same as someone saying that they hate black people.

lastly, i find the last part of hardaway's quote amusing. by definition, if homosexuality shouldn't be in the world, then we can infer from that statement that it shouldn't be in the US. there's no need to tack on the united states part at the end.

three posts in one day, man i must really not want to do any real work.

what's next, short round for commissioner?

the dallas cowboys just hired dat nguyen to the very confusing title of defensive quality control/linebackers coach. the linebackers coach title i get, but defensive quality control? once upon a time i was a quality control person at a robot factory (don't ask) and all i did was look over circuit boards to make sure that all the right transistors were in the right place. so maybe dat will get to look over defensive players before games to make sure all their junk is in the right place.

but i digress, i'm pretty sure that this makes the first vietnamese person ever hired to be a coach in the NFL. unlike their black colleagues, there is little fanfare accompanying this announcement. i understand that the history of black players in the league is different, but still, an milestone of sorts for the vietnamese community. i guess norm chow was the first person to break the asian color line, but still, come on people! this is a historic moment!

not that i'm mad, cuz i'm really not. but i do think that this is a nice illustration of how asians are perceived as being more assimilated than other racial groups. this is even more of a paradox because of the fact that in general, asians are stereotyped as being decidedly un-athletic. this is a fading stereotype with asians excelling in fringe sports like ice skating or skateboarding, but again my point is, this is an interesting moment in the NFL, but it is not perceived as one because nguyen is part of a racial group that is treated differently from other racial groups.

anyways, as a person of vietnamese descent, i am pretty happy that this has happened. dat nguyen doesn't get his due as a trailblazer for asian-americans, being one of the first to play in a major team sport in the US. so let me be one of the first to hail his contributions to asian-american history.

2.13.2007

breaking the silence

the title of that post is much more dramatic than it needs to be. anyways, as you know i am a terrible blogger these days, i've really missed the window on the superbowl, but i had nothing different to say than anyone else...game sucked, commercials sucked, prince rocked, and rex grossman sucked. but i did want to weigh in on the whole john amaechi coming out of the closet thing. if you don't follow sports, a former NBA player, (and i use the term "player" loosely as he was in the NBA for all of five years averaging a whopping 6.2 points a game) came out of the closet, told everyone he was gay, is going on a book tour, etc. etc. again i have nothing new to add to the usual commentary, but i did want to point out a couple of things about the coverage. mainly, that this all sounds familiar. like other forms of journalism, sports journalism has seen a marked decline in quality and originality, (see anna nicole smith coverage). after amaechi came out, you heard the exact same arguments....that america is ready for a gay pro athlete, that current players would be okay with it, except in the showers (what a ridiculous argument), that so and so would not be okay with it, etc. etc. etc.

my point is, that the way this stuff is covered prevents any kinds of real examination of the issue. why haven't any of the major columnists pointed out that gays in women sports are muc much much more accepted than in male sports. why don't they make the connection that it is because of the hyper masculine discourse that is so important to sports. why don't they talk about the fact that sports has an extremely bad track record with homophobia. why don't they make the connection between the fact that most of the players who most violently oppose gays in the lockerrooms are all christian. why don't they say, that homophobia is rooted deeply in several variations of ridiculous religious laws. why don't they call for the NBA to make a definitive statement that they would welcome any gay players and would sanction any players or teams who discriminated or harrassed gay players?

do you see what i'm getting at? it really does us no good to publish these stories or write about them unless good questions and discussion arise from it. but the mainstream press can't be bothered with this kind of thing. all they can do is cover the sensational moment that comes to pass after the initial announcement, then the columnists spout out the same tired cliches that we heard when that guy in the NFL came out.

i'm kind of whining, i know, but it's become harder for me to take any kind of sports journalism seriously. maybe the lines between entertainment world, the commercial world, and the sports worlds have become so blurred that basically, i feel like following professional sports is like following proctor and gamble. the point is, ESPN.com should let me write a column about this whole thing. but since i'm such a terrible blogger, this will never come to pass. this post was pointless. i'm gonna stop right now.

2.04.2007

the official ragin' asian super bowl prediction

every fiber of my football instincts tell me that the line on this game should be at least 10. what we have here is a matchup of people overrated because of the past. the bears have a great defense, but not a historic one. they were much better at the beginning of the year because they had two of their best players not injured, mike brown and tommie harris. of course, they are injured now and that's why we don't see the 60 minute lights out performance that the truly dominant defensive teams give.

the colts offense isn't as good as it used to be. sure, every now and then they'd put up a 38 point game, but there were some games where peyton and company struggled to get over twenty points. now everyone seems to think that the no huddle can do no wrong. these guys aren't even close to teams like the 2000 rams or heck even the broncos the year before.

so what does this all mean, i guess it means we have to take a look at the other phases of the game. the bears offense appears to be putting up points, but thomas jones and cedric benson are decidedly unappealing. the colts defense on the other hand seems to be playing really really well in the playoffs, so the colts have the upper hand in this matchup. special teams, well that's a no brainer since devin hester will force the colts to punt away, giving the bears field position. so it seems to me that we're all tied here and that i should go with my gut.

but then i got an email from an old college buddy who is the single biggest bears fan i've ever known. it reminded me of many a sunday spent nursing a hangover, while watching curtis conway, neal anderson and jim harbaugh play to full stadiums. these teams were no good, but chicago fans' enthusiasm for their team never wavered. y'all remember that saturday night live skit, the superfans, with george wendt, mike meyers, and joe mantegna? well, one morning in chicago, i was flipping through tv stations and i ran across the mike ditka show. now keep in mind, at this point, ditka was no longer the coach. anyways, at the end of the show, they open it up to questions from the audience, and the first guy is this 300 pound polish dude, with a heavy chicago accent. he's wearing a jacket and a hat with about 15,000 bears pins all over them. it turns out, the superfans are real. seriously, there really wasn't much different between what i saw that morning and what you see on saturday night live. what is my point? good question. i guess in a game that has me analytically vexed, that i'm just going to go with my heart. chicago is one of america's greatest city. it blows new york and san francisco out of the water. i know that i'm usually an advocate of pure rational analysis of sports based on numbers...but ahhhh, screw it, the city of big shoulders has always been good to me. bears 34, colts 21.