DJ as dissertation jockey: ... M.C. Cornel West, please drop science for the crowd.
Clips in the cinematic chamber: ... Renting "Chungking Express" brought this on. Thank me later.


Bloggies: You have less than 24 hours. What are you waiting for?
A novel idea: ... I do believe.
From Aaliyah to Zee: The Hollywood Reporter updates its casting list for sequels to "The Matrix."
Aaliyah, the singer who made her feature acting debut in Warner Bros.' "Romeo Must Die," has been added to the cast of the subsequent installments of "The Matrix" franchise for Warners/Village Roadshow Pictures and producer Joel Silver. The first of the sequels is slated to start production in March in Australia with filmmakers Larry and Andy Wachowski at the helm. The third installment is scheduled to be shot immediately following the second. The story lines for both "Matrix" sequels are being kept under tight wraps, but it is known that Aaliyah will play a character named Zee and will likely be more prominent in the third installment. Original cast members Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving are back on board for the sequels, and Jada Pinkett Smith has been added to the cast as Niobi, the love interest for Fishburne's character.
Won't you go left, Bill Buckley?: Over at Lingua Franca, Corey Robin poses an interesting question in summing up a survey of conservatives migrating to the other end of the political spectrum.
At the end of our interview, I ask Buckley to imagine a younger version of himself, an aspiring political enfant terrible graduating from college in 2000, bringing to today's political world the same insurgent spirit that Buckley brought to his. What kind of politics would this youthful Buckley embrace? "I'd be a socialist," he replies. "A Mike Harrington socialist." He pauses. "I'd even say a communist."

Can he really imagine a young communist Bill Buckley? He concedes that it's difficult. The original Bill Buckley had the benefit of the Soviet Union as an enemy; without its equivalent, his doppelg�nger would confront a more complicated task. "This new Buckley would have to point to other things," he says. Buckley runs down a laundry list of left causes�global poverty, death from AIDS. But even he seems suddenly overwhelmed by the project of (in typical Buckleyese) "conjoining all of that into an arresting afflatus." Daunted by the challenge of thinking outside the free market, Buckley pauses, then finally says, "I'll leave that to you."


Station to station: ... S.F. Chron reporters went, rating BART stops on their way.
After meritocracy: ... comes the slight return of the valuecrats, now known (re-known? renowned?) as organization men. (via Ghost in the Machine)
Sam Prekop: ... and the niceness that is The Sea And Cake.


Macintosh Color Classic G4?: That's twisted.
Quotes: ... George W. Bush goes to church ...
"He got right into it," Lewis said later, adding that he had learned only a few days before that Bush would attend the service.

"Our intention was just to provide an environment in which he could be spiritually fed," Lewis said. "He seemed to be relaxed and fit right in."

The congregation had not known that the former president and first lady also would be coming, Lewis said. "That was a treat."

At one point, the pastor called Bush 'president-elect,' prompting shouted corrections from his congregation. "Did I miss something?" the pastor deadpanned.

"I did that on purpose, because I've heard a lot of jargon about the 'president-select,' " said Lewis, 39.

Although he voted for Al Gore, the pastor added, now Bush is "our president. . . . My team lost. But I'm a team player."

... in order to have a prayer in 2002.
Bush has a strong incentive to succeed in his effort to repair relations with African Americans: politics.

"Going into 2002, we can't have 5 to 9 percent of the black vote, said Bill Dal Col, a Republican strategist. "In the Senate, we have 20 Republicans up [for reelection] in minority-heavy states. We need those votes. If it's not turned around it could definitely impact the Senate."

Bush's advisers are confident that he can boost his standing, much as he increased his share of the black vote in Texas from his first to his second election. "Historically, the way this has played out is Republican challengers get very little of the black vote when they win," said Ralph Reed, an outside adviser to Bush. "But once they've won the election, if they've done a good job working with the African American community on a few critical issues, whether it's health care or education or poverty, they are usually able to raise their numbers into the low to mid-20s or even higher."

Part of Bush's problem was beyond his control. Black voters strongly backed Bill Clinton and were driven by the improved economy to support his understudy, Vice President Gore. At the same time, tough television ads sponsored by the NAACP and others spread doubt about Bush's racial record.

Still, several of Bush�s actions, most notably his vigorous use of the death penalty in Texas and his visit to Bob Jones University, worsened the situation. Some recent actions have exacerbated matters, particularly the Ashcroft nomination. "You can't embrace us and stick a thumb in the eye at the same time," said Hugh Price, president of the National Urban League.

Even allies say some of Bush's efforts to improve his standing with African Americans since the election have failed. Robert Woodson, a prominent black conservative, said Bush�s speech before a group of black schoolchildren on Martin Luther King Jr. Day fell flat. "Don't just go into a school and do nice, fuzzy things. He can�t just have a meeting � he's got to put some policies in place," Woodson said. He also said Bush's naming of black candidates to top posts did little to help. "Republicans can't get away with symbolism," Woodson said. Democratic symbolism is more effective, he said, because "Democrats have a history" of support.


Blackout blues: ... and how some of the locals are handling it. Apparently, I'm not as bent out of shape as, say, some real Net slaves. Then again, I haven't had the power cut out anywhere near me (touch wood). And some slightly better adjusted people (the ones with real lives) are doing their thing just the way I hope I would do it.
"I just have to tell you, I felt lost," said Rosanne M. Siino, whose power failed for two hours last week, leaving her without e-mail � and pacing nervously � at her home office in Scotts Valley, near the Santa Cruz mountains. "Thank God for my cell phone."

"Everything we do is dependent on technology," said Ms. Siino, a marketing consultant who telecommutes to San Francisco, 80 miles away. But her woes go beyond the practical. She has a short attention span, she acknowledged, a need for Internet speed � fed by a culture grown dependent on a round-the-clock stream of digital blips and pulses.

"When you're not on computer," Ms. Siino said, "you may as well cut off your arm." ...

Armed with cell phones, laptops and handheld computers, people can switch to temporary, mobile mode when the power fails at their homes, offices or home offices.

Or perhaps, at their cafe offices, like Simple Pleasures, a neighborhood spot in the Richmond district of San Francisco, which went dark for an hour last week. Its toaster and espresso machine down, the cafe was reduced to selling regular, low-tech drip coffee, but life and commerce did not stop for patrons. Several kept chatting by cell phone; one woman, oblivious, typed away on a new translucent orange Macintosh laptop.


I remember Bill Clinton: ... the first black president.
Earthquake in India: ... and the New York Times can't decide whether the affected region is in the east ...
It was that kind of day across much of New York yesterday for Indians from Gujarat, a state in eastern India.
... or the west ...
A devastating earthquake struck India's western state of Gujarat today, then shook the rest of the subcontinent from top to bottom. About 2,000 people died, and hundreds more were missing or injured, officials said.
... but the list of places to contribute emergency funds is always a classy move.

I read about it last night. Ankita called home, and her folks in Delhi were all right. Many thanks to Christine and Shannon for checking in.

71 posts in six months: ... at Metafilter.
Freaky doings: ... at my old junior high school.


Happy birthday: ... to Antonio Carlos Jobim.
A-pop is on and poppin': ... So I've been caught sleeping on Asian pop music. Should've known what was up when I saw this earlier today. Now I'm hunched over my iBook, making my wrist sore punching up Coco Lee and other stuff on Napster. And that other track? Damn catchy -- ah, those guitars, the Janet-style "Nothing Really Matters" vibe and those reed-thin massed vocals. Curse you, Ernie! Curse you and your fiendishly catchy MP3 recommendations!
Longplayer: ... ain't a piece of vinyl, but a sonic banquet "good to eat a thousand years."


Sexual orientation as a factor in job hiring?: John Ashcroft, come on down!
Rebecca Walker's looking for a few good men: Actually, one good one will do.
"My partner has a child and both of us serve as parents. I want to have children, too, and am looking for a donor."

A donor?

"You know, a daddy donor. I have my eye on a Pakistani man that I met recently. I took one look at him and thought: 'Yum, I want to have your baby'. But I'm open to other possibilities."

After all the troubles she has suffered from her own parents' experimentation with child rearing, you might think she'd proceed with greater caution.

"No, I'm excited about creating a family that can exist in a really diverse world. I was thinking how much fun it would be if I had a child with my Pakistani friend. Just think, the child could go and visit relatives thousands of miles from California."

Yes, and perhaps also write a memoir some day, recalling in great detail the special challenges of its fashionable, multicultural childhood.


Bush has his finger on my power button: ... and he knows which way I voted.
Californians feel lambasted, defrauded, and bamboozled by Old Economy "pirate generators" such as (let's name names here) Reliant Energy, El Paso Energy, Dynegy, Duke Energy, AES, Southern, Calpine, and Enron. But Enron in particular is George W. Bush's favorite company in the whole wide world. James W. Baker is Enron's lawyer. The Pirate Generators own Washington. The Information Superhighway is suddenly yesterday's news, somebody else's concept, all hype and ozone. The NASDAQ is in the tank, while the utility sector is the new darling of Wall Street. Furthermore, it very much galls the new administration that the homeland of Reagan is currently run by Democrats. An economic crunch in California is the prelude to a political assault from Washington.


Man deemed too white, thin for prison: I'm not making this up. (link courtesy of Randomwalks)
The ex-reporter turned dot-com worker in me: ... cringes. (link courtesy of MediaNews)
Twenty-three years and a million cubic gallons of platitudinous lava later, 11.5% of daily newspaper journalists are African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American � but so is 28% of the nation. The gap is still 15%. Nothing has changed.

Except the deadline. The ASNE has dealt with its failure to diversify by awarding itself another 25 years to meet its target. This would be a joke if it were funny.


Jesse Jackson, cinema and the single mom: On a whim, a New York Times' archive search turns up a review of "Chocolat" on the edge of its two-week run and about to slip into the land of paid-retrieval content. Does this make Jesse Johnny Depp?
"It's the classic struggle of our time," he said. Juliette Binoche, playing a free-spirited chocolatier and unmarried mom, takes on a hypocritical mix of morality, religion and politics in 1950's France. The film could be said to have a message. But a booming one, worthy of Mr. Jackson's microphone?

"Absolutely," he said. "The movie is as dramatic as Nov. 7, and it is as though it was written about our times instead of for our times. It's about the great theme of our time, intolerance. You can just see the religious right narrowly defining the rights of others."

Later he said: "It's not like a typical movie, it's almost biographical."


Does Mr. Jackson see himself in Vianne, Ms. Binoche's character? The woman the mayor wants out of the village? "The movie is really about us going to Birmingham to get the right to vote," he explained in a Lincoln Town Car plowing through Times Square. "People said: 'You're not from here, you don't belong here. Go away.' "

Jerryfication: The Chronicle gives my town's Mayor Brown a mixed report card halfway through his term. Crime is down by 29 percent ("Riders" notwithstanding, I guess I feel safer -- I haven't been attacked yet, though somebody did smash a window on my car back in September); there has been little progress on arts and education; developers have been happily hammering away at Jack London Square and around Lake Merritt (way costly, and frighteningly prone to being left incomplete come the recession), yadda yadda yadda.

What did catch my eye:

  • "In addition, the 10K plan has yet to attract much shopping and amenities that would complete Brown's vision of a 24-hour downtown. A long-promised Gap is expected to open near City Hall this summer, but deals with other major retailers are still in the discussion stage." Should there be a Gap there, really? When neither the Starbucks in City Center nor the Tully's at 14th and Broadway will stay open after 6:30 p.m.? Did I just say that? Not that more Starbucks solve anything, either.
  • "A city-sponsored art gallery near City Hall is scheduled to open by May. Construction on Oakland's largest public art project to date -- a $250,000 industrial mix of motion-activated lights, guardrails and rubber sidewalks to brighten Broadway under Interstate 880 -- is expected to begin next month." A quarter of a million dollars, right? Money that could go to upkeep and improvements like brighter lights. I love me some public art, but this isn't the place to put it. That stretch of Broadway is not a destination, it's a path to destinations. Slapping an installation there isn't going to make it one.
  • "As for his future, Brown would not say whether he'll seek a second term as mayor or if he is eyeing Washington -- either a U.S. Senate seat or a fourth run for president -- as has been rumored. His decision, and announcement, will come soon, Brown said. 'I believe I can make a contribution to clarifying the urban situation in 21st Century America,' he said." Well, good for you, Jerry. I hope you let the rest of us know soon, so we can plan accordingly.
    Effective web writing: ... Someday it'll catch on. (via John Snyder, always looking out for me from over at GreenBiz)
    P.J. Rourke disparages my favorite Beatle: ... as a setup for outing Clinton as a "band geek."
    We met Governor Clinton at hip, cool (well, hip and cool for Little Rock) Doe's restaurant. He was laid-back. He was out-front. We asked him a question that we felt no other presidential candidate in the history of America had ever properly answered: "Who's your favorite Beatle?"

    There were four aspects�"avatars," we used to say�to the sixties. Each idea or event of the period seemed to have the nature of one of the Beatles: John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, or Paul McCartney. That is, everything in the sixties was either brilliant but troubled, earnest but flaky, stupid, or Paul McCartney.

    "Paul McCartney," Clinton said.

    The difference between conservatives and liberals: ... and the problem with that difference. I remember participating in a mock election in the third grade, 20 years ago, in a Montgomery County (Md.) elementary school about a week before the 1980 election. I think Reagan trounced Carter by 3-to-1 among my classmates. When the results were announced over the school loudspeaker, I put my head down on my desk, genuinely shocked at the margin. I tried to play it off. It was disquieting to realize that the cheering kids around me saw the world differently, even if they were just parrotting their parents' opinions.
    Conservatives and liberals take a fundamentally different approach to politics. Conservatives are driven by rage; liberals by guilt. Conservatives attack. Liberals equivocate. Liberals inhabit a world painted a thousand shades of gray. Conservatives live in a black and white world. Conservatives believe they are battling evil. Liberals believe they are struggling to overcome human frailties. ...

    Tolerance is the watchword for liberals. Punishment is the watchword for conservatives. ... A few days after the polls closed in Florida this past November, Republicans made it perfectly clear that if a court-ordered recount declared Gore the winner, they would fight the outcome all the way to Congress. On Jan. 6, 15 Democratic members of the House of Representatives rose to challenge Florida's electors, citing a pattern of irregularities in the voting. Their challenge could not be heard unless one senator signed their petition. No Democrat would do so.

    In January 1993, a liberal president took office. The Republicans were a minority in the House and the Senate. That didn't stop them from waging war. Indeed, Sen. Bob Dole used the filibuster to an extent unknown in U.S. history to stop Clinton from enacting any significant legislation. For almost two years, Dole forced liberals to gain 60 votes, not 51 votes, to win. Does anyone believe Minority Leader Tom Daschle will embrace such a strategy?

    I appreciate liberals' devotion to tolerance and diversity. Really. But after a while I begin to think Robert Frost was right when he defined a liberal as someone "so broadminded he won't take his own side in an argument."

    Quotes: From Reuters ...
    "In France it was Joan of Arc; in the Crimea it was Florence Nightingale; in the deep south there was Rosa Parks; in India there was Mother Teresa and in Florida there was Katherine Harris," said singer Larry Gatlin as he introduced Harris to an adoring crowd of Florida Republicans. ... Speaking to Reuters before she made her surprise address to the crowd, Harris dismissed suggestions she would receive an appointment from the Bush administration.

    Harris also declared she wanted to stay on the list of worst dressed women of 2000 -- even after self-styled fashion maven "Mr. Blackwell" took her off the list for improving her appearance. "I want to stay on the list because I was in extremely good company -- Elizabeth Hurley and Madonna. I'm not as glamorous as them," Harris said.

    Bush's brother Jeb, the Governor of Florida, was also mobbed by the crowds at the inaugural ball, but he made no appearance onstage. "I'm pleased and proud," Bush told Reuters of his older brother's inauguration as 43rd President. "I'm also pleased to be here with all of my friends from Florida because we made it happen."

    Forty acres and one big digital mule: ... Art McGee and the Black Radical Congress get some dap in this Village Voice article.
    McGee says many African Americans came late to the Internet�but that they are there, especially in social settings, and just need to be organized. "There's an unevenness to the Internet from the [black] activist standpoint," he says. Now McGee hopes to pull the communities behind sites like and toward progressive politics.

    The timing is certainly right to harness minority outrage over the election and the Supreme Court nod to Bush, McGee argues. "It's all out there in the open now," he says. "We don't even have to explain what the problem is, just how we go about changing it."

    Much Apu about nothing: So it was Saturday night, and the wife and I were at home giggling on the couch tonight over this. Why? 'Cause we're weird.
    The character "Apu," on the television show "The Simpsons," is one of the few representations of a South Asian male immigrant available within the popular American imaginary. Apu is a caricature of a stereotypical South Asian immigrant male worker with a heavily accented English and comical foreign mannerisms. In the episode "Much Apu About Nothing," The Simpsons satirizes Apu's readiness for American citizenship while ridiculing the displacements effected by nativist anti-immigration discourses. Apu is depicted as a convenience store employee with an education seemingly at odds with his profession and also at odds with the education of his "American" working-class friends. The episode begins with the problem of a wandering bear in the town of Springfield which the mayor responds to by raising taxes to form an ineffective "bear patrol". When the citizenry angrily storms town hall in hysteria over the bear and the tax increase, Mayor Quimby quickly blames the tax increase on illegal immigrants and proposes the initiative "Proposition 24" to deport all illegal immigrants from the small, suburban town of Springfield. Initially, Homer Simpson sides in favor of Proposition 24, claiming that illegal immigrants are responsible for his son's lack of motivation in educational pursuits: "The schools are so jam-packed with immigrants that kids like Bart have lost the will to learn." Upon discovering that his friend Apu is not a "regular Joe," but actually an illegal immigrant, Homer slowly changes his take on the Proposition. Apu reveals that after coming to the United States on a student visa as a graduate student, he took a job in order to pay off his student loans. He found the only viable employment opportunity at a "Quick-E Mart" convenience store. In his initial attempt to stay in the country, Apu thinks just acting "American," i.e. getting rid of his religious icon Ganeesha statue and wearing a cowboy hat and Mets shirt, will convince everyone of his American citizenship. After Lisa discovers an amnesty clause that would allow Apu the chance to become a naturalized citizen, Apu finds that studying for the citizenship test is the only viable way of staying in the U.S.

    As the Simpson family prepares Apu for the Citizenship exam, this episode highlights how Apu's difference from them is constituted through his formal post-colonial education in India. When quizzed on the origins of the Civil War, Apu composes a long and complex explanation invoking the economic disparities of the North and South when he is instructed by a confused examiner to, "Just say 'slavery.'" "Slavery it is," says Apu, thus adopting the state's formal agenda in reproducing a dominant version of U.S. racial history. Adopting the notion that U.S. racial processes can be reduced to the overcoming of slavery is depicted, in this instance, as a precursor to citizenship. Apu's answer to this question on the citizenship exam satirizes the simplistic understandings produced by the U.S educational system and evidences Apu's very different relation to the study of history.


    Quotes: ... from out, about and around.
  • Dick Gregory, the comedian, accused Mr. Bush of stealing the election. "If you stole my car," he told the crowd, "I'm never going to accept that it's your car."

  • The nation was rising, a new president in the wings, and on the streets a grim-faced man took up early silent protest outside the Supreme Court. "Crime Scene," his sign proclaimed. "5 of 9 Should Do Time." But with the daylight, a group with a contrary point of view began singing in his face, "God Bless America," again and again.

    "You want a crime scene, the White House is down that way," one member of the Republican chorus said to the protester, who took it as mutely as a guard outside Buckingham Palace. "Go on, they're fumigating the West Wing this morning," the chorus member advised.

    "Now guys, remember: a positive message," a man with a bullhorn said. And he began another chorus of "God Bless America" to invoke innocence upon the day.

  • The biggest problem today was that unmistakable vibe of unhappiness around the fringes of the event. Thousands of people showed up with the firmest of convictions that George W. Bush does not have a legitimate claim to power. Among them, only Al Gore held his tongue. He declined to exercise his Constitutional and moral right to heckle Bush unmercifully throughout the inaugural address.

    Many of us expected Gore to whip out some papers and shout, "Late results from Broward County!"

    I chose to watch the first part of the ceremony on the streets, among the people, the common folk, to experience the inauguration in its most authentic and populist form. Mine was a distant vantage point.

    I may have actually been in Arlington. If you squinted really hard, you could see, far in the distance, a tiny object that I am pretty sure was the Capitol dome.

    This was the turf of the protesters.

    "Unity my Ashcroft!" one sign said.

    "Re-elect Gore in 2004."

    "A Handgun for Every Child."

    The most strident may have been the one composed by San Francisco photographer Johanna Hetherington: "Dubya: Buffoon King of Corporate Whores, Earth Plunderers and Election Thieves."

    "It's a sad day, because democracy was subverted," said Connie Anguili, a protester from the District.

    "Nobody cares about democracy as long as there's a smooth transition of power," said her friend Arlene Whitten.

    "I really would like somebody who's actually been elected," Anguili said.

    "Not by Supreme Court corruption," added Whitten.

    The new president spoke of unity, common ideals, shared values. He's got a lot of work to do to make that come about. The protesters had tuned him out. They had no interest in his speech. For the Left, the theft of the presidency is as fixed and immutable a chapter of American history as the French and Indian War.

  • Mr Bush said on Friday that he was "not backing off" from his conservative political convictions. He had a blunt message for Democrats in the divided US Congress - they should work with the new administration "or they're going to be left behind."

    To those who believe that he "stole" the election and is not entitled to appoint conservatives, such as John Ashcroft, to his cabinet, he had an equally brusque response. "Too bad," he said. "I'm going to."

    A charitable cause: The Angry Red Planet's DVD fund.


    Pop and politics: ... no, not this, but this.
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect George W. Bush (news - web sites) drew more cheers than the platinum-selling pop singers with whom he shared the stage on Friday during a pre-inauguration youth concert.

    Pop acts Destiny's Child, Jessica Simpson, Lee Ann Womack and 98 Degrees performed and Bush briefly addressed the thousands who attended the two-and-a-half-hour event at the MCI Center in Washington. A number of Bush Cabinet nominees spoke at the event in between the performances.

    Several singers mixed politics with their music.

    Destiny's Child singer Beyonce encouraged the crowd to "say Bush" when she was not exhorting them to wave their hands in the air. Jessica Simpson changed the chorus of one of her hit singles to: "George, I think that I'm in love with you/I've been doing silly things when it comes to you."

    It's different for Deutch: A guilty plea, no prison time and the loss of his security clearances. No jail time, no fines, no charges of mishandling.
    The Justice Department initially declined to prosecute Deutch in 1999 after a yearlong review of the case. When Deutch left the CIA in December 1996, CIA security officials had discovered he had written and stored highly classified intelligence reports on home computers linked to the Internet. Deutch has publicly apologized for his behavior.

    But Attorney General Janet Reno ordered a review of the case after the CIA inspector general later completed a report on the episode. Prosecutor Paul Coffey concluded that criminal charges should be filed.

    Some observers had noted that a prosecution of Deutch was initially declined but that the government filed 59 felony charges against fired scientist Wen Ho Lee over his handling of nuclear weapons secrets at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Some questioned whether that was evenhanded treatment.

    But prosecutors always viewed the two cases quite differently. Deutch was mishandling classified data that he was working on as part of his job, they noted. But Lee, without authorization, downloaded secrets unrelated to his work, which they considered more suspicious. Lee had been the subject of an espionage investigation, but the government never charged him with spying.

    Last September, Lee pleaded guilty to one felony count of mishandling secrets and was released after nine months of pretrial detention in a plea bargain in which he agreed to tell the government how he disposed of copies he made of the secret data.

    Hurry back, Preston: ... but take whatever time you need.


    With a song in my recently aerobically stimulated cardiac muscle: The manila folder was still in the drawer where I'd left it. It contained the workout logs I kept when I started going to Club One City Center last year. Two rows on the top page were still empty, so I marked the date next to the last one I'd filled in six months ago, shortly before quitting the gym. A sip of water from the fountain, a few minutes' desultory stretching on a bleached towel atop a flat grey mat and I was off to the races.

    Monday I just went through the motions, not even trying to meet the minimum standards of the reps and sets suggested by my old trainer. Yesterday was better: I kept my eyes closed, my breathing slow and regular and mindful. Multitasking's not called for on a treadmill or an abdominal machine. No windows to open, no messages to answer. You do what the machine recommends, pause, repeat, pause, dab at your brow and move along. I did have Caetano Veloso's CD "Livro" the first time, and maybe I'll bring it along next time.

    The song in question, "Manhata," keeps me in the moment without nostalgia and inspires neither temporal nor geographical longing, because it makes me feel content and still and gracious and it pins me in wonderment beneath horns, strings, nylon guitar strings and clearly enunciated, softly whispered lyrics.

    Leaving Chico Buarque behind, it's time to talk about "Manhata". This song is a cross-breed of Sousandrad and Lulu Santos, who deserves more than this song, by the way. Chico Buarque does not share our (mine and Lulu's) view of Manhattan. The reference to the rhythm'n'blues producers wouldn't interest him. Maybe the inconspicuous one in "Livro", in which Julien Sorel, inside a cave, writes a book at dusk and burns it at dawn, would. The desire to combine modern street percussion from Bahia with cool, sophisticated sounds came during my European tour with "Fina Estampa", when I listened to records of Miles Davis with Gil Evans and of Joao Gilberto singing "Baixa do Sapateiro". With "Manhata" I accomplished this fusion.
    Before reading this, I didn't realize: ... that the BBC's main site was ad-free.
    The problem with Ashcroft: ... and the issue seemingly lost on those who believe he doesn't have a "racist" bone in his body is plain as day to Norman Solomon.
    In the New York Daily News, Stanley Crouch noted that Southern Partisan introduced the interview by touting Ashcroft as a "champion of states' rights and traditional Southern values."

    Crouch pointed out: "Those are code words for white supremacist ideas about the Civil War, segregation, genetics and so on. Code is now very important, even to those in the boggiest wilds of the far right. They, too, know that in politics it might be best to move under camouflage until you get where you want and can begin opening serious fire against your enemies."

    Right now, if John Ashcroft gets where he wants, he'll be moving into the office of the attorney general of the United States.

    In the Boston Globe, columnist Derrick Z. Jackson has been eloquent about what's at stake. "The nation's top law enforcer cannot be someone who vacillates between civil rights and Civil War fantasies," Jackson wrote. And he concluded: "When Ashcroft says the traditionalists must do more, America should tremble. The nomination is so perverted, it should follow the final path of his Confederate heroes. It should be driven off in a scorched-earth campaign."

    But John Ashcroft and his strongest allies -- on Capitol Hill and in the news media -- are going all out for Senate approval of his nomination. They have plans. And they're not just whistling Dixie.

    Finally!: A reason to read the Daily Cal on the regular!
    My name is Arian White and no one will take me seriously. Yes, I am an icon. So are you, and our iconography is even more apparent in this "PCU"-like university. I'm black so I'm an athlete. You're Asian, so you are a foreigner. You are Chicana, so you like lowriders. You're gay, so you're sex-crazed. You're disabled, so you're incompetent. You're a woman, so you're here finding your husband. You're Indian, so where's your accent? You are white, so you hate me.

    As horrible as it sounds, this type of thought pervades society. These ideals only manifest themselves at Cal because of their prevalence in our greater American society. And as long as such ignorance pervades our society there will eventually be Jews named Adolf, Japanese people named for Manzanar, and blacks named Arian White.

    Jesse: I feel really sad for him, as well as his wife and children.


    Forget about milk: ... Got truck?
    A big-rig truck rammed into California's state capitol building on Tuesday, setting off a fiery explosion just as state lawmakers were finishing an emergency bill designed to ease the state's critical power crisis.

    Officials said the driver of the truck, which was loaded with evaporated milk, was killed in the incident, which witnesses said appeared to be some kind of bizarre attack.

    "There's no question in my mind that this was a deliberate act,'' Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg said after he and other lawmakers were evacuated from the building. ...

    Assemblyman Kevin Shelley said the explosion occurred shortly after the vote was taken to pass the bill, and that emergency personnel immediately ordered the building cleared.

    "We heard first one loud boom and then several loud booms in immediate succession. Then we began leaving the chamber," Shelley said.

    "The members were frightened. They don't know if it is related to their business. They don't know if it is the beginning or end."

    Shelley said that if the state Senate had been in session in its chambers, which are much closer to the explosion site, there could have been many injuries.

    "This job is hard enough without having people trying to kill you," Shelley said.


    Ricky Martin, meet George W. Bush: ... George W. Bush, meet Ricky Martin.
    What I saw today: ... 70 pages of the original Dred Scott documents. A call for journalists to be scholars. Michael Bowen's First Person Parables (Bowen was one of the first African-American personal home pages that I had the good fortune to run across). And Verne Gay's recollection of the the Gulf War -- it was 10 years ago today -- through the eyes of CNN's anchors.
    The deed was done: ... and now two hearts beat as one. < sniff, sniff > Somebody, pass me a tissue ... < / sniff, sniff >
    After last night: ... I'm looking forward to going over some of the personal testimony offered in this page about diversity in Buddhist communities.
    Before you begin reading the following personal statements we ask that you take a moment of reflection. Take some breaths and allow your mind to relax. Now imagine your Sangha, gathered in full, sitting and listening to a Dharma Talk. You are in the front looking out at a sea of faces. Who is there? What color are those faces? Do you see many faces of color? Do the color of these faces reflect the greater community in which your sangha lives? How do you feel about this? And how do you feel generally about people of color? Do you hold stereotypical ideas about some people of color? Do those stereotypes affect the way you deal with people of color? Please be honest with yourself. We do not ask these questions to encourage blame. We are all struggling with deep racial conditioning. By bringing light to this problem we hope to deepen the practice of Dharma for all beings.
    A handy guide: ... to black rage, not necessarily similar to what I felt when casting around for material about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., online and finding a David Duke autobiography, but close.


    George W. Bush, Britney Spears and the naked truth about Americans: ... it's all right here, thanks to my buddy Tyler Porter. One can only wonder how soon various permutations of it will begin to make their way around the 'Net.
    Another worthy manifesto: ... about the world's best computer, worthy of adding to my links page this week.


    When did you throw out your porn magazines?: ... And was it for the same reason I did? (via lemonyellow)
    Right of way is what porn-land is all about. It may be that men's insecurity in a changing world, where their role and power has been reduced, prompts the need for a fantasy world that offers itself as reality. A world where men are on top. A world where sex-barter is the only exchange between men and women. It's a comforting, closed world where women are at once everywhere and excluded. It's a conservative world, where for all the panting poses, there is neither freedom nor change.
    Cellphone? Fuhgeddaboutit!: I love my Ricochet, but I did see two brothers in the Alice Arts Center's Cafe 1428 in downtown a couple of weekends ago with Motorolas, messaging each other, and I remember thinking to myself that it was kind of cool. Russell Simmons and Star Jones seem to think so too.
    "I remember when Guy Oseary in L.A. gave all these executives BlackBerrys and we used to laughingly refer to them as the white man's pager," Mr. Simmons said. "He was giving them to Brad Grey and Bernie Brillstein and those people." (Mr. Oseary is a record executive. Mr. Grey and Mr. Brillstein are the producers of "The Sopranos.")

    Both devices appeal to gadget-crazy consumers who want their e-mail anytime, anywhere, despite the awkwardness of tiny screens and tiny keys. At least they both beat cell- phone e-mail, which is also available.

    "It's completely changed the way folks communicate," Ms. Jones said. "You have to make so much small talk on a phone call and go through personal assistants. With the two- way it's an instant one-on-one connection."


    Why I was late for work this morning: ... The train I missed was probably the one involved in this.
    Bay Area Rapid Transit officials have identified the worker killed by a train this morning while he worked on the tracks. Pittsburg resident Robert Rhodes, 43, was struck and killed by a train at 9:45 a.m. in the tunnel between the 16th Street and 24th Street stations in San Francisco.

    Rhodes was an electrician checking on sparks in the tunnel, according to BART officials. Officials are investigating the incident to learn exactly how the accident happened.

    New pair of headphones: I bought mine at the Metreon this evening. They say Sony MDR-A44 on each arm. They're made of black plastic. They bend if you blow on them hard. But music comes through them real clear, it does. This evening, it was a spin through the "S" section, starting with Armand Van Helden's remix of the Sneaker Pimps' "Spin Spin Sugar" and pausing midway through Stevie Wonder's "As" to take up arms against a sea of chicken noodle pho at Ba Vo on 13th Street. Flipping through the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Bay Area's only indie paper now that the deal has gone down, I came across a mention of the disquiet I've been feeling in two pauses between things -- the interval between my old 'phones coming apart after months of battering in my overstuffed black backpack and the purchase of my new ones, and the mere days remaining between the end of the Clinton presidency and the beginning of the Bush "residency."
    Every time I shade my experience with something no one else is conscious of, I probably lose another point. All I've done is prove I have an overhealthy imagination and a lack of interest in facing the world without added atmosphere, the world as it "really" is. But maybe until the world becomes a place I like enough to accept on its own, I'll keep my headphones handy.

    To Russia with hate: ... goes David Duke.
    Race, employment and whatnot, pt. 2: ... I lucked across Erin Teixeira's profile of David Wellman, a white-studies professor and freelance white-supremacy decoder who testified as an expert witness on a CSU Hayward professor's behalf (using this handy-dandy checklist) -- sans secrets or rings.


    Power-mad: So I'm sitting at work, on the fifteenth floor of a San Francisco high-rise, and I'm waiting for the electricity to cut off. PG&E won't offer any warning about when it'll happen, and somebody says the power may stay off for as long as four hours. So as it happens, it's also my day to do something interesting at work today with the site cover, and the uncertainty about the timetable for carrying that off is making things, shall we say, interesting for me.

    Got through the doctor's appointment today: I showed at 9:05, thinking myself ahead of the game, only to find he expected me at 9 a.m.! I appear to be healthy, though in need of a slight kick in the pants re: my so-called sedentary lifestyle. But I can do this. It's no biggie.


    A kickass short story I'm reading: ... is "Mayela One Day in 1989" from Dagoberto Gilb's Woodcuts Of Women, which takes me away from the rain today and puts me in an El Paso, Texas that looks a lot like the one I glimpsed from my window seat when watching the sunrise during an epic, D.C.-to-Oakland bus trip back in March of 1999 -- a John Rechy El Paso part of me wishes I could have gotten off my bus, checked into a hotel room and waited for nightfall to explore.
    Two from Yahoo: ... I'm neither happy nor surprised that the Army's new recruiting slogan and ad campaign "utilized minority firms specializing in marketing for young blacks and Hispanics," or that it took a worse-than-expected BSE count in Germany to get some new Green power (even if it's just oversight).
    Spiralgirl's eyes never lie: ... especially now that she's killed her old URL ( and begun organizing her pictures and patter over here, here and here into a series of yesterdays.


    Some habits are harder to quit than others: ... It's a shame heroin is back, but it's a bigger shame that an article asserting this and containing the following lead paragraphs (underlines mine) ...
    SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 8 � At 5 a.m. in San Francisco's seedy Tenderloin area, the drug addicts are just about the only ones out.

    A young woman with matted blond hair stumbles down the street with her eyes closed; a man in a red spandex dress and silver pumps nods out against the door of a single-room-occupancy hotel; small clusters of hollow-eyed men and women hover on corners. It is no wonder the police call this strip of the Tenderloin the heroin corridor. Everyone on the street looks either high or hung over.

    Later in the day, Matt Dodman, a blond, angelic-looking 26-year-old, is sitting in a cafe in another, hipper neighborhood, the Mission. A heroin user for three years, he avoids the Tenderloin drug scene. "I'm not part of a hard-core drug clique," he said, taking a sip of mineral water. But down the block, a dozen of his friends and acquaintances -- all heroin addicts in their teens and 20's, and all disheveled and homeless, as he is -- sit on the sidewalk outside a community center and wait to be tested for hepatitis C. More than half will test positive, as do the larger population of San Francisco heroin users who have been taking the drug at least five years.

    ... has to give its readers a picture of a black woman as visual shorthand for "urban resident" and "illegal drug consumer." Now, on that notice, the wife and I are off to see a little film called "Traffic."
    Now that's an editorial! I was shocked. Lo and behold, right there on my computer, I saw it. On its screen, a hilarious story appeared. Very funny, I thought to myself. Ends that writer's career at that paper, I betcha. My, my, my. You should check it out, 'cause it's a hoot. Blog readers who made it this far are advised to examine all underlined letters in this message. Thank you. That is all. (link via Romenesko )


    A magazine to check out: ... or a site to surf, if you don't find it on your local bookstore shelf or 'zine stand. The other day, someone had pulled it out and left it sitting front and center on a shelf in De Lauer's.
    Killer yogis? Om yeah! After reading this to the wife, she says: "I can't wait." I said, "For what? For yoga to fall out of favor?" Vigorous nod from the wife.

    So, three guesses where I was this morning and the first two don't count? Yup. Downtown Oakland's Alice Arts Center (where I lived for two and a half years in the mid-90s) is home to a number of dance and theater companies, and most of the companies hold a special session on the first Sunday of every third month where people can attend dance classes for free. You can get everything from Afro-Cuban and capoeira to jazz and modern dance.

    I was there for a 10 a.m. hatha yoga class, still groggy from waking up at 9:30 and kicking clothes and books across the floor next to the bed in search of sandals, shorts, a clean shirt, sweatshirt and jeans. I hurried across a parking lot diagonally after leaving my building and entered the Alice, went up the stairs in the lobby and signed in just outside the second-floor studio.

    A small woman who ID'd herself as Lakshmi led us through a range of things over an hour: "sun salutations," as well as "corpse," "child" and other assorted asanas. I knew enough not to embarrass myself, as the wife and I had done a 90-day/$90 series of attend-as-many-as-you-like yoga classes at a studio in The City, Itsyoga.

    After class, I stopped by the cafe in the first floor, Cafe 1428, to bring stuff back home. While I waited for the new girl behind the counter to learn how to grind coffee beans and set up fresh brew, I logged on and saw that Cecily had sent this to me (which only makes this account of yesterday's events all the more pathetic in retrospect), and then I found the article in question.

    I don't think gyms are soulless places (which is why I'll probably be re-joining my old one this month). I'm not going anywhere to get competitive over poses and advanced degrees of spiritual knowledge. And before I get all worked up over it, I think I'm going to go lie down on the bed, assume the prone position, pull the covers over my face and do some deep breathing.

    Namaste ... oh, and happy half-birthday to me, happy half-birthday to me!


    A nice little exchange: From Michelle Ling's Cal Monthly essay from back in the day. (link courtesy Model Minority)
    "Did your father want you to date only Japanese girls?"

    "Well, he never said anything, but if I went out with white girls, I was on my own. If I dated the Japanese girl in our neighborhood, then he'd give me the car and some money and I was all set up."

    "As an Asian male, do you get angry at all those Asian girls who date white guys? You know, the Yellow Fever phenomenon? Or is it just jealousy?"

    "Well, if I can speak for all of us, yes, I do. We don't like to see them exploited, seen as objects. Of course, we exploit them too...."

    Pat's wife is white. "Is that revenge?"

    Pat screws up his face disapprovingly and shakes his head. "No. It's just people. We just got along."

    "See?" I say gleefully. "You married a white girl. You must be a big disappointment to your folks!"

    I tried to explain my indignAsian to him, talking about how I reject my people and they reject me and I'm all alone in this yellow sea. He wasn't having any of it.

    "No. There are plenty of Asians out there just like you. You just have to find them. Put an ad in the paper: 'Bitter Asian who can't stand Asianness seeks others....'"

    "All right, all right, I get it," I said. I asked him if he's glad to be Japanese, if he, who only speaks Japanese because he went to Japan later, was proud of that part of his heritage, three generations back.

    "It sounds funny, to say it out loud," he told me, "but yes, I am proud. There are certain values, like pride, honor, a strong sense of family, an incredible work ethic--this idea that all good things come only from working incredibly hard. Those things, I am proud of."

    "But aren't those just human values?"

    He laughed. "Well, yes. But, you know, occasionally Asians are human too."


    Why I did well on standardized tests as a kid: ... may not simply be all about the Benjamins. Or so says France's "master thinker." I know that I had the good fortune to be encouraged by models (family members with academic degrees) and the teachers and administrators at the schools I attended.
    Admission to France's elite "grandes ecoles" (the equivalent of Ivy League schools), for example, is determined purely on the basis of performance on a national exam. But when Mr. Bourdieu analyzed several classes of admitted students, he found that the overwhelming majority were children of the upper classes. They were both more likely to take the exam in the first place and to use the kind of cultivated language and analytic reasoning apt to be judged favorably by examiners.

    "The French school system appears to be meritocratic but in fact it's very conservative," Mr. Bourdieu said. "Education, which is always presented as an instrument of liberation and universality, is really a privilege."

    Partly because of his emphasis on cultural rather than economic factors, Mr. Bourdieu's work on education initially had few enthusiasts in the United States.

    "Many of us," said David Swartz, a sociologist at Boston University and the author of "Culture & Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu" (University of Chicago Press, 1997), "thought that money -- the ability to pay tuition or purchase a house in a neighborhood with a good public school -- was what explained unequal attainment and performance in school.

    "What Bourdieu contributed was to say cultural socialization was the explanation. He was writing in a country where education was tuition-free and one still found enormous class differences in attainment and performance.'

    It's Industry Standard time: ... if this piece is to be believed. I left a bunch of really smart and resourceful people there last April, and none of them deserve what may happen Monday.
    Despite the downturn in the Internet economy-magazine segment, IDG, which owns 80 percent of Standard Media, remains bullish about the company, says CEO Kelly Conlin. ''We believe strongly in the audience, in the quality, in the core editorial product and the strength in the franchise,'' he says. ''You'll see some new conferences and new features on the Web site this year.''�
    Things are what they used to be: Ain't you heard, Jane Monheit? Y'all know the name of this one (Side note: I lovelovelove me some Cassandra Wilson and Patricia Barber; I haven't gotten around to buying any Dominique Eade, Diana Krall or Dianne Reeves -- though Reeves' "Better Days" pisses me off because it brings tears to my eyes far too easily) ...
    Music legend teaches us that Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, figured he would make a billion dollars if he could find a good-looking young white boy who sang like a Negro, and he found Elvis Presley. In the fall of 1998, Carl Griffin, the head of artists and repertory for the multimedia company N2K (and now the president of its spinoff record label, N-Coded Music) was absorbed with a quandary posed by a growing trend in jazz: more and more of the best-selling CD's had been made by performers who were dead.

    After generations of being an adventurous, exploratory music always probing forward -- an avant-garde art of the American street -- jazz flipped backward, focusing on its past. Starting in the 80's, a repertory movement led in New York by Wynton Marsalis elevated the status of jazz in the formal hierarchy of the performing arts and institutionalized the music. At Lincoln Center, Marsalis's jazz program finally gained acceptance as a full constituent, officially equal in status to the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. A repertory movement needs a repertory, of course; hence, institutions like Lincoln Center and the Smithsonian Institution culled from the past a canon of creators and interpreters -- Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis -- that became increasingly iconographic.

    "Too much of the industry's attention is being lavished on the seminal figures, and the consequence of that has been dire," explains Jeff Levenson, a former vice president for jazz at the Warner Brothers and Columbia labels. "Problems have come from the desire to get the culture to legitimize this music so that it can become a packageable idiom that attracts corporate dollars."

    For established jazz labels with extensive holdings of vintage recordings, the battle between "catalog product" and "roster talent" is no contest. It is, self-evidently, far more economical to fold fresh wrapping around old recordings than it is to sign, nurture and market new artists. "It stunts the development of new artistry," Levenson says. "In very practical terms, if you're not among the uninitiated, you go into a store and you are confronted with a decision of the complete Monk on Blue Note for $12 or the new Eric Reid or Brad Mehldau. The dice are loaded. You're going to go with the seminal figure at the expense of discovering new artists."

    And so a recent college graduate who wears his hip taste in music as he wears his Campers might give a party and fill the CD tray with Beck and X and Nelly and, oh, one Ella and one Billie Holiday. Yes, musical juxtaposition can be fun, and most jazz (Dixieland and fusion notwithstanding) has a timeless cool. Still, one can't help wondering if said party-giver might not have played a smart, young jazz singer -- perhaps Paula West -- if he had a better chance to see and hear one.

    Though the raging classicism in jazz has hurt more probative singers, it has helped Monheit. She was discovered by Carl Griffin on Sept. 25, 1998, at the Thelonious Monk competition, the prestigious annual contest that had previously introduced young jazz stars like the saxophonist Joshua Redman and the trumpeter Ryan Kisor. The winner in the vocal category was Teri Thornton, the 64-year-old singer and pianist who announced during her performance in the finals that she was battling cancer. (Thornton would die 20 months later.) Monheit, at 20 the youngest finalist in the competition, performed after Thornton in the finals, singing "Detour Ahead," and won the second-place title.

    In Monheit, Griffin found his Elvis: a good-looking, young white woman who sings like a black jazz master of the past, specifically Ella Fitzgerald. "I heard the element of Ella that struck me -- very unusual for a girl 20 years old, especially a white girl," recalls Griffin, one of relatively few African-American executives in top positions at American jazz labels. "I said, 'O.K. -- she's in touch with the tradition, and she's young and beautiful. She's the best of both worlds. This is it!' "


    America's voting franchise, from ethnological and historical perspectives: Two tribes go to war. via metafilter


    Give a man a fish: ... and he'll make you achingly aware of human beings and how we're kicking Mama Gaia in the behind.
    Glantz described one visit with the people of this village: "There was a cluster of old fishermen standing around a small pile of fish that had been taken from the sea. They were buying the fish from the fishermen who had trekked to the edge of the sea to fish. I asked them why they were eating these fish that were known to be contaminated from agricultural pesticides and herbicides in the seawater. One old man said to me, 'The fish are poisoned but now so is my body. So eating them cannot hurt me.'"

    The Aral Sea is a feature fast disappearing from Earth's face. It would take over 880 billion cubic feet per year over the course of twenty years to replenish its waters. With economically dependent humans thriving on the same waters that fed the once giant body of water, it seems the helpless sea is fast approaching its end.

    After devoting 26 years to studying people's interaction with the climate, Glantz says the Aral Sea is one of the best examples of how the human footprint runs deep across the globe.

    "Wherever there are humans, it seems the environmental problems are these long-term, low-grade problems," Glantz said. "All of a sudden we wake up and it's a crisis. No society, rich or poor, has been able to deal with these creeping environmental changes. We always deal with them after there's a crisis."
    Sound, it never dissipates: ... it only recreates in another place and time. Just when I thought I wasn't going to go over 500 MP3s taking up space on my hard drive before I commit to whatever Apple's coming out with in six short, sweet days (code name: Mercury), Anil writes a song of love. So now I have to go get sampladelic on somebody.


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