Saturday, March 31, 2007

Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Republican

I have been feeling cranky lately. My husband has been turning the radio dial over to Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura, and my dad likes to watch Fox News. The thing is as I surf around the Internet I hear the same spin and parroting of the Bush administration that defies logic. They continue to blame liberals for everything, forgetting they had a monopoly on power till the 2006 election. You can see this in Nerdman's blog entry, Defending America by not defending America . Watch how he never really questions Bush's incompetence except for the lame excuse, "We NEEDED to get involved. Iraq HAD to happen. Not in the WAY it was pursued, but it HAD to happen." I understand he NEEDS to believe that, because otherwise he has to face the fact that he was horribly wrong. If you read enough about warfare, every war seems inevitable at the time with the drums of war a pounding, you pull back and look at the motivations, the missed signals, poor intelligence, and poor decision making and you can see that no war is inevitable or only has one way it could go.

The only movement to accomplish anything was the act of Democrats sweeping out the screw-ups called republicans. Republicans didn't have the guts to reign in their incompetent President and the American people responded.

Then I come across Becky with lots of hearts. She too likes to blame liberals for everything and attribute positions to liberals that have no evidence whatsoever. She sees Rosie O'Donnell bring up a conspiracy theory and automatically that all liberals believe it and totally ignores that her side of political belief have come up with some whoopers too in WAY TO GO POPULAR MECHANICS!!. She also misses out in having a enlightening discussion about religious literacy to blame liberals for pedophilia, incest, and if you let her go on that we are responsible for Sanjaya still being on American Idol.

The whole concept of a "liberal conspiracy" also makes me laugh. I am a liberal who has over the years worked with other liberals, our "democratic" decision models make it impossible to decide any one conspiracy to focus on. Believe me, we wouldn't get as far as deciding whether to free Mumia, Tibet, or lab animals. I have been trying this novel idea of picking one thing to protest on per protest event, I am still waiting.

Then I found Conservative Voice's blog where he/she states quite boldly in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary that global warming is a hoax. Heck, a huge majority of Americans believe in Angels and UFOs.

Don't mistake me, I will defend all these people in the right to believe and boldly state their opinion, but I have the equal right to argue against them and demand that they defend their beliefs. It is their right to question my beliefs. That is how the marketplace of ideas are supposed to work.

I get cranky because I have all these conservative bloggers, talking heads, and politicians telling the public about what I as a liberal believe -- they are absolutely wrong. I am a liberal, if you have a question about what liberals stand for I can tell you. I will give it to you straight because I am not ashamed of being a liberal. I was a liberal feminist in the Reagan era where feminazis and liberalism was attacked all the time. Don't listen to Ann Coulter, Rush, Dr. Laura, O'Reilly, or the Bush administration what we believe because they all have their bread buttered defending a particular ideology. I don't even get shells and shiny objects for sharing my opinion.

If liberals screw up, I will tell you. If I screw up I will tell you.

I am liberal, but I am an independent liberal. I am registered "decline to state" for a reason. Politicians have to earn their vote.

I don't have a problem with traditional economic conservatives, I may not agree with their ideas, but I understand where they are coming from. I do lean towards libertarian instincts, but think you can take libertarianism too far. Religious right folks have the right to believe what they believe, but my tolerance ends when they try to get government to reinforce their religious beliefs. To those who want to snoop in our bedrooms, I say, "Shoo! Get your own life! Mind your own morals!"

I love and live for political debate with people who disagree with me, because I get bored preaching to the crowd. Every once in awhile I get enormously cranky when I hear people parroting the Bush administration or Fox News. People I really try to get my sources through relatively unbiased with me here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

All Bow Down to His FauxHawk!

He taunts us. He dares us to vote him off as he knows that he is invinceable. It kind of reminds me when Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day realizes since his day keeps repeating everyday there are no real consequences. Sanjaya's fauxhawk is Bill Murray stealing the Groundhog and driving angry to their demise. Of course, this is just snarky speculation. He is most likely a clueless teen, who is led to believe that America loves him. The fauxhawk may just him being silly -- thinking it would be cool.

What is not cool is the whole anti-Indian vibe I have been seeing around the net, and sometimes people think he is Iranian. Let's stick to the plain fact that this person just can't sing, and needs to be voted off. Now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Movie Maven: Shut Up and Sing

In the time leading up to the Iraq war, people around the world were against the United States invading Iraq. While an overwhelming amount of Americans supported the war, there were Americans who were against the war. The opponents of War warned the United States that they were making a grave error in this pre-emptive invasion. Much of the warnings that were ignored came to pass.

I remember when Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks told her British audience that she was supportive to the opposition of the war and that she was embarrassed that Bush was from her home state of Texas. I thought that it was a brave stand and that she gave voice to the Texans I knew who always thought that the Bush family were mere carpetbaggers who did little for their state.

This movie documents the consequences they faced and still face because those 12 little words of dissent. Country fans abandoned them for speaking out in a foreign country and being the All-American country-girl face of anti-war sentiment. This movie illustrates how the consolidation of radio stations under huge right wing corporate leaders intensified the consequences the Dixie Chicks faced. They could no longer count that their music would be played on any country station.

The Dixie Chicks are enormously talented women who are mothers of small children. They have to tour, record their next album, spend time with their small children often while they are pregnant. They contend with all that and have to deal with death threats, pickets, commentators calling them traitors, stupid, and all kinds of harsh words, and boycotts.

I don't question the right to boycott performers or anyone in the media. I stand by the right of people who boycott Dr. Laura, so I must stand by those who boycotted The Dixie Chicks. I just think that they had to put up with far more crap for just 12 words. Part of that is that the right wing had control of enough radio outlet to fuel the rage against them that couldn't have happened 10-20 years ago.

I think that while they did pay the price by losing the country audience, I think the experience made their music better. I think their last album is brilliant and about very important things that they have went through. My favorite song of theirs is "Not Ready to Make Nice" echoes a lot of anger I have built up over the Bush administration and their followers. It really sums up nicely what people went through speaking out against the Bush war machine. Now that the anti-war crowd is vindicated (an unsatisfyingly sad vindication) and people are now seeing that we were right, we are still angry what we were put through and people who questioned out patriotism have not earned the right to our good will.

The Dixie Chicks were one of the countless casualties of this Bush administration's march to war and general incompetance, but also to the worrying trend of media consolidation. See the film and decide for yourself.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The War On Drugs & Death With Dignity

Recently, a federal court upheld the right of the federal government to arrest those who use medical marijuana even if they are residents of states who have passed medical marijuana laws. It angers me that people would be so punitive and hardheaded to deny a person who depends on marijuana to live with a disease or condition with some comfort. These are often the same people who oppose legislation for assisted suicide by claiming that all people need is to have the right meds to keep them comfortable. Why would anyone support a government that would criminalize those who are already suffering from a terminal illness. Why would anyone allow that? I don't get the lack of compassion, and just saying you have compassion doesn't cut it. You don't show compassion for a person by allowing them to be turned into criminals.

Who cares if people who are less than terminal or in real pain use marijuana? Who cares if healthy people use it? If marijuana is grown by the user, there isn't the issue of supporting terrorists, drug cartels, or domestic drug gangs. Wouldn't the best way to cut into the income of these bad people to allow people to grow their own to give away to those who need it? Wouldn't decriminalizing marijuana allow law enforcement to concentrate on the really bad drugs like meth, cocaine, or heroine -- that we all agree are harmful? Arguably alcohol is even more dangerous than marijuana and it remains legal.

There are two types of people. There are people who believe that life should be preserved regardless of the quality of life issues. Then there are people who believe that they value quality of life more than quantity of life. I fall into the latter camp. Every person has their own definition of quality of life and what they are willing to do to preserve their lives in the face of suffering or terminal illness. There is no wrong answer for each person, but we shouldn't be enforce one person's personal preference for end of life on another.

A ninety-five year old woman shouldn't have to blow her brains out because our country doesn't believe in physician assisted suicide for someone who would rather die than suffer cancer and waste away. There are people who decide to allow themselves suffer and waste away in their final months, days, and hours because of their own religious beliefs or own philosophy which should be protected by law. Good for them. I think that each individual should have the liberty and privacy to be able to include physician assisted suicide as part of their end of life medical care.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Future SAT Question

23. Valley of the Dolls are to drugs as:

a. Bush Administration is to lying

b. Mel Gibson is to offensive outbursts

c. Bill O' Reilly is to spin

d. All of Above

This morning it was reported that after Al Gonzales claimed that he had nothing to do with the 8 AG firings, evidence has been found that he was in all of the meetings and signed off on the firings himself. I may not be the first to say: liar, liar -- pants on fire. What gets me about the members of the Bush administration is that they lie at all. If you watch Fox News they will tell you that the firings are not against the law and that democratic congressmen are just holding show trials. The obvious question is if they did nothing wrong in firing those AGs, then why lie about being involved? It is just like the Scooter Libby situation. If it wasn't against the law to reveal CIA employee Plame's identity, why did Scooter lie about being involved? It seems to me that this administration is addicted to the lie, even when they don't need to, or do they?

It seems that the decendents of the Mayans, who were the subject of Mel Gibson's last movie, Apocalypto, had a problem with his portrayal of their people. Mel apparently went off on them. I don't know what it is about Mel, but he seems to not have people skills, have anger issues, and can't seem to stop himself from saying offensive things. I think that one of their complaints was that he portray them as too bloody, but if they watched Mel's other films they would find the Brits were pretty sadistic in Braveheart and Jesus was pretty messed up by Romans and Jews. Mel seems to really go overboard with the realistic depiction of sadistic violence. I am not letting Gibson off about his offensive outbursts. I think he needs help and maybe a break from public appearances.

When my dad comes over, we are often obligated to let him watch FoxNews ("We Decide, You Believe") and it seems that many times it's Bill O'Reilly who is on. He welcomes us to the "no spin zone" yet he then commenses with spin. Maybe he doesn't know what "spin" is, or in the spirit of a great line in Princess Bride, "I don't think that word means what you think it means."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

SF International Asian-American Film Festival, Part 3

Last night, I returned to the San Francisco International Asian-American Film Festival to see two more films. The first film I watched was Kabul Transit, a documentary filmed in the Fall 2003 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Directors Dave Edwards (an anthropologist) and Maliha Zulfacar (sociologist), with photographer Gregory Whitmore sought to create a documentary that allows the viewer to go on a journey in Kabul without a strong narrative or narration. Dave Edwards had lived in Kabul before the fall of Afghanistan to the Russians. The directors speak the languages of Kabul and have connections that allowed them access to the Canadian UN Peacekeepers, Afghani Ministry of Interior, police stations, and Kabul's TV mountain.

The film is very visual and uses regional music and in one part, Russian music to great effect. There are times where the effect is hypnotic. It opens with boys and young men kite fighting on a hill with the kites reaching far out over the city. Then there is TV mountain broadcasting a translated version of George Bush talking about how our nation was harmed and that this will be a long, difficult mission. His image crackles on a small black & white television.

According to Dave Edwards, who stayed over after the film to take questions, they had problems getting access to the American operation in Afghanistan and had to follow the Canadians who were far more at ease at being filmed. The Canadians come off trying to do their best as professional and experienced peacekeepers, who are fighting the red tape to get stuff done. One Canadian officer expresses disappointment at the entire operations lack of concerted effort to change things -- its all piecemeal and very frustrating to him. Canadians take surveys of the Afghanis so they can report back to their own government as to their progress.

When the filmmaker talks to Afghanis they express frustration at the American forces who's paranoia and aggressiveness puts them off and may be partially responsible for Afghanis themselves to lash out.

Director Edwards was asked about why there wasn't more women in the movie. He admitted that out of 150 hours of film, they only got 3 hours with women. They have a scene where women are talking about how the American and UN coalition talks about and tries to do things for women, but their efforts don't really address their real needs and are not lasting or sustainable. They scratch their heads at a program to get them in the pickle industry. There are a couple of other scenes where women were still wearing burkas two years after the fall of the Taliban, and there are areas in Kabul and in the outskirts where women are kept almost exclusively in their homes to prevent being attacked. Edwards says that not having an all female crew kept them from filming more women. Thoughout the film though the absense of women is noticeable and counter to all we heard back home that we were making a difference in Women's lives in Afghanistan.

One of the most remarkable parts of this film was when they visited the Soviet Cultural Center built in the 1980s to be a huge complex with a large theater and where over 600 Afghanis live in its rubble. Scattered throughout the rubble there are discarded and damaged filmstrips from the Soviet era that these refugees would collect. The directors intercut footage of performances at the theater of Russian dancers and of the Soviet parade heading out of Afghanistan with a Russian song about the Black Tulip (which was the name of the airlift that took dead soviet soldiers back home during the conflict with the Mujahidin). You would have footage of a performance at the theater and then to the complex that is just a shell that is barely standing. The transformation of the building is staggering and it makes one gasp.

Another thing we saw is a police station that cannot work their police radios during the day because there is no power and they have no money to keep their generators on. It is clear that what passes for police in Kabul is very unsatisfactory. They are all volunteers and they show up when they want to. Then the film shows where a coalition soldier able to play videogames during the day -- so someone is getting power.

The director told us that the are planning to put this out on DVD and they hope to have an additional disk that would be an interactive map of Kabul so you can click on a neighborhood and experience what they caught on film spacially.

I recommend this film as a snapshot of a capital city caught in the middle of an epic drama existing in rubble with this long rich history. I hope that they can go back and make a sequel of this film to see if anything has been accomplished and if we have learned anything by being there for 5 years.

Political Drama...Reality TV...Neo-Puritanism...The Culture War...and People who need to Hug-it-out


I finally got around to seeing what all the fuss was with that faux commercial about Hillary Clinton and the old 1984 Apple Ad. Am I the first person who just has a, "YAWN!" Is that all? Are we that starved for controversy this early in the campaign that we have to dig up a lame Youtube hack video?

"You're Fired"

First it was Donald Trump who made terminating someone's potential job famous, now we have Al Gonzales and perhaps Rove and other high level White House firings of 8 federal prosecutors that are getting people up in arms. Bush supporters on Fox and on talkradio have been screaming about how Clinton fired 93 prosecutors and complain that people all upset about only 8. Of course, they fail to say that the 93 came at the beginning of Clinton's presidency when it is completely normal for all presidencies to do such housecleaning. The difference is that Bush Jr.'s administration picked a curious time fire these prosecutors, for dubious reasons, and lied about why they fired these prosecutors. Again, I think that it is not the firings that will get them in trouble, but the lies. They would have such an easier time if the copped to being an administration that is evil incarnate willing to delve in the dark arts of dirty politics. I guess there will be supoenas all around. Will we finally get these guys under oath? Oh, please. Oh, please.

If Sanjaya Stays, The Evil Doers Win

I am desperate as I watch American Idol and Sanya remains safe week after week, despite crucifying every song. Every time he sings I cringe. Now I learn Howard Stern and "Vote for the Worst" blog is campaigning to keep him in the competition. It is just wrong! Stop this madness. Some people on Myspace claim to be on a hunger strike. Of course, I am the one who proudly hasn't cast a vote in the entire six seasons of this show. I vote actual elections that mean something (smirk!). It is crazy that more Americans vote for their American Idol than vote in elections. Lordy!

Get Out Your Porn, Kids

It seems that the courts have overturned the law that would make it illegal to provide "harmful" material to minors. Of course, the government fears the worst now.

"It is not reasonable for the government to expect all parents to shoulder the burden to cut off every possible source of adult content for their children, rather than the government's addressing the problem at its source," government lawyer Peter D Keisler wrote following the four-week hearing, the Associated Press news agency reported.

It is all about being in the room while your kid is on the computer and knowing what they are doing. It is about talking to your kid's friends' parents and making sure someone is paying attention how they are using the computer. It is also about talking to your kids and telling about the values you care about. Ultimately, if you kid sees a naked woman or a naked man it isn't going to be the end of the world. As parents we need to talk to our kids about sex. It is also important to make sure your kids protect themselves from predators and scams. As parents it is our job to know what our kids are doing.

360 "HUH?" Files

[75th] Heartbreak - "All Liberal mothers, who are pregnant, should abort there babies now, to save the world from an epadimic of waterhead babies!! " Nice Guy.

Nerdman - "I am quite sure that there will be more attacks on American troops because of the Democrats election. It has shown the terrorists that their tactics work. October being the most americans killed during the war month was the "Tet Offensive" of the Iraqi campaign! Do you think it was a coincidence it was so close to the mid-term elections!" or "Some say that it is wrong to say that a vote for the Democrats is a vote for the terrorists. If that is the case then why is their only strategies "Anybody but Bush" and ALL they seem to talk about is "pulling out of Iraq." I thought we would never forget 9/11. Now it seems that most of America doesn't even know what happened."

Rachmanpianoplayer -"Outraging Liberals Is The Best Work Of Life!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Crazy Talk In Place Of Science Education?

Imagine this...

You have a child in high school and your hope is that he learns enough to prepare him/her to do well in a good college. You trust that he/she is being taught the essentials in English, Math, History, Languages, and Science. Your son or daughter goes to their biology class and the teacher spends the time reading bible passages and showing a powerpoint presentation linking evolution, Nazi Germany, and Planned Parenthood. Parents in Sisters, Oregon didn't have to imagine it because it happend in their high school. Kris Helphinstine, the offending "teacher" has fortunately been fired.

Helphinstine had the nerve to suggest teaching that there are links between evolution, Nazi Germany, and Planned Parenthood was simply, "Critical thinking is vital to scientific inquiry My whole purpose was to give accurate information and to get them thinking." His powerpoint presentation and use of the bible in the science classroom was no way near critical thinking, but more like crazy Art Bell Coast to Coast (the show that has people calling in claiming to be aliens or the Zodiac killer living on another planet) thinking.

I believe that the main duty of a teacher is to prepare students for college even if they decide to do something else with their lives, because it gives them a good foundation if they change their minds and do go to college. What Helphinstine was teaching will not prepare students for any college, except Bob Jones University. Biology teachers should be teaching about evolution, scientific method, cell structure, skeletal, reproductive, muscle, respiratory, nervous systems, among other topics that are fundamental knowledge in the Scientific community. Science education is about giving our kids the opportunity to someday have science careers if they choose to do so.

Personally, I do not care if a person chooses to believe that the earth was created 6000 years ago and that man and dinosaur co-existed. As an American, you have the right to believe all kinds of crazy and improbable things. When you are intrusted with educating our students, you have the obligation to put aside your possibly hairbrained beliefs to teach the curriculum to get our darlings into college. If you are not doing this you are wasting our time and need to be fired and your ability to teach science revoked.

Creationist Fairy-Dust Files

I have mentioned before that when you enter "liberal" into the 360 search, you end up finding a lot of 360 sites that are very, very anti-liberal. You enter "evolution" and you can find rabid creationists! Up is down in this crazy world we live in. Some of these blogs and 360 pages I wish I was allowed to quick comment, "Whaaa?", "Huh?", or have the smiley face that makes the hand gesture of craziness. "Hmmmmm" is too non-committal and can be interpreted as a positive interest to use for some of these sites.

I was zooming around some 360 profiles and ran across McDave's site where he had a shocking article, "Fossil radioactivity shortens geologic "ages" to a few years." This would be a huge discovery if the article was backed up by more than three people. The bulk of the source material for this article is from Robert V. Gentry, who has a Masters in Physics, but only has a honorary Doctorate of Science from Columbia Union College. Columbia Union College is an Adventist College that is recognized as a fundamentalist creationist college that only gives Bachelor of Science in the Sciences. They do not even offer masters degrees in any of the sciences. Other authors McDave cites are Andrew A. Snelling and Mark H. Armitage, both creation scientists. I have run across critiques of Snelling who is actually a PhD in Geology and has a legitimate work in mainstream science. Then only thing is that his legitimate and mainstream work undermines his creationist work. He has written articles that refer to late Miocene, Early Pleistocene, and late Pliocene, time periods that do not exist in the creationist/young earth world.

Snelling explains the doubletalk by saying that he was forced to use those terms by mainstream science in his work and that he still sticks to the creation "science" way. A lot of young world defenders spend a lot of time accusing mainstream science of censoring them or blacklisting them. In their world, they are afraid to let the truth be known that will undermine evolution once and for all.

This particular article deals with the subject of radiohalos. Gentry feels that these radiohalos decay at such a rate that suggest rocks are formed more instantaneously and bolsters the claim that the earth was created as stated in Genesis.

Creationism or Young Earth Creationism states that the earth was created 6k to 10k years ago. The most hard core fundamentalist YEC's like Snelling place it at 6k-7k. years.

Why should we care? We should care because there are whole bunch of creationism colleges in this country who actually have science teaching programs. They are unleashing science teachers that can try to pass off this psuedo-science as "proof" that mainstream acceptence of evolution is not valid. They undermine science education and are more concerned with proving that the earth is 6k years old than doing solid science. They instill in their students a disdain and distrust for mainstream science that goes beyond healthy skeptism everyone should have when confronted with any claim.

McDave's post could plant a seed of doubt in those who are not paying attention. People rarely check the citations and look up the authors and who are behind their research. It looks like a scientific paper and it sounds authorative, but if you dig deeply its merely creationist fairy dust.

That evolution occurs is fact. What science is still trying to flesh out is the mechanisms of evolution. They flesh this out by scientific inquiry and disproving various theories of how evolution works. Creationists point out the natural controversies that happen in peer review and legitimate scientific inquiry as proof that evolution is in question.

Below are some interesting reading:

Gentry's Halos Refuted

Gentry's Published Papers

Radiohaloes at Wikipedia

Opposition to Mark Armitage's scientific work

Examining Radiohalos

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The OC Tribute & This American Life

Was listening to This American Life ("What I Learned From TV" episode) last weekend and caught Ira Glass' tribute to Fox show, The OC, that recently went off the air. It has been several weeks since the last show aired. Ira opened the floodgates with his admission that he and his wife were big nerdy fans of the show. They shared their belief that the character played by Mischa Barton should have been killed off in the first season. Ira was thrilled when the couple of Seth and Summer mentioned This American Life in the show, which left Ira asking, "Is that on everyone's TIVO?" They then admitted that they used to sing along to the shows' great theme song, and sang the song on TAL.

For sure, The OC, was a guilty pleasure. It was a show about pretty rich people with problems put into improbable situations and unnecessary teeth gnashing drama, agonizingly awkward moments, and a healthly dose of poking fun at itself. The show had a sense of humor and its cast showed a talent for the comic gift. What made it work is that the cast for the most part were likable despite their weaknesses. I will miss it even though I think they stopped the show at the right time. We have the DVDs if I ever need to go back to those crazy folks.

Then there is This American Life, one of my favorite radio programs on NPR. On Saturdays, after our absolute favorite radio show, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me (a news quiz show), I listen to Ira Glass present a series of radio essays within a theme. I have often found myself crying, laughing out loud, and overall having my thought provoked. This is how I discovered Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris, two people who never fail to make me laugh. You can listen to these shows for free on their website, and I wish I could embed some of my favorites here, which are too numerous to list here.

Sticking Up For My Gay and Lesbian Brothers and Sisters

It really does bear repeating that I fully support equal rights for gays and lesbians in this country. It drives me crazy that there are people in this country who are actually entertaining a constitutional amendment to create special rights for heterosexuals and ban marriage by gays and lesbians. These people want government to pander to their own sense of vanity and desire to feel superior to others. After a horrendous history of success (ie. 50% divorce rate and high rate of domestic violence), heterosexuals have absolutely no claim to have a monopoly on matrimonial rights. None.

I don't see how Americans feel comfortable with themselves as Americans, when there is a group of law-abiding, tax paying citizens who are discriminated against and persecuted as they are. Every American should be ashamed for letting this go on too long.

It is insane to kick gays and lesbians out of the armed forces, especially when they are highly trained and skilled, and are willing to protect a country that denies them basic rights. The argument is that it would undermine troop cohesiveness. So you are telling me that the best trained army in the world can't be trained to be professional enough to do their job rather than worry about the sexual preference of the other guy? If people are not professional enough to handle gays and lesbians they are not disciplined enough to be in the army. Gays and lesbians are not the problem, it is these unprofessional soldiers who have the problem. Their sensibilities are not more important than recruiting skilled professionals.

Occasionally you will get a guy who is so distraught about being hit on by a gay guy. I find these guys very immature. One of the things that we have to deal with is being approached by people who we are not attracted to. Part of being an adult is being able to decline their affections without freaking out and being nice about it, since it could be us who approach someone who isn't attracted to us. If you are not attracted to the person, who cares if it is the member of the opposite sex that approaches you? Be polite and appreciate the compliment, and move on people. It isn't that hard.

More often you find the guy who is just afraid he will be hit on. In many cases, they are giving themselves way too much credit that any gay guy would find them at all attractive. I say to them, get over yourselves and grow up. If the worst thing that can happen to you is to be hit on by someone of the same gender, you are doing great!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Oscar Maven Wins Again

At the 2006 Oscars or the Brokeback year, I won our Oscar night with 17 out of 24 categories correct. That was with a reasonable amount of research and being relatively pure when it came to not screening nominees beforehand. I had gotten complacent and distracted in the weeks leading up to the Oscars. Then there was my husband's trash talk. We decided this year to get an Oscar like trophy for the winner of this year's Oscar prediction game. My husband started to crow how the trophy would look nice on his side of the bed. A sense of dread came over me. This could be the year that my dominance in prediction would end since I hadn't studied enough. I prepared myself to be gracefully defeated.

This year I only won with 14 out of 24 categories, because I watched The Departed, Cars, and Monster House. In error, I picked Cars to win for Best Animated Film, since I had no idea about that film about dancing penguins and I thought it would be Pixar's year. I knew Martin Scorsese was going to win for Director, even though The Departed was a mediocre movie, but it was so hard voting for the movie for Best Film and picked Babel instead.

I also fell in love with Pan's Labyrinth through its musical score and got blindsided by my pre-screening love of this movie in the Best Score and Best Foreign Film. After listening to the scores on NPR, I really thought Pan's Labyrinth would get it over Babel, because of its memorable melodic score over a rather non-traditional score. I had heard about "The Lives of Others" about the Stazi in East Germany and thought it may win, but promptly forgot about it when I was rushing through my ballot and only focused on voting for Pan's Labyrinth as much as I could.

Who knew Eddie Murphy would be left out in the cold? I also thought United 93 would get something like Best Editing. Silly me, since Marty's editor has been his career long editor and I should have caught that.

My win had a lot to do with Best Song and Best Documentary. My opponents for some reason didn't think that Inconvenient Truth would win in either category. Many felt that since Dreamgirls was nominated for three songs, that one of the songs would have to win. It is obvious they didn't heed the big rule in such things. When one film gets nominated in a category multiple times, votes are split, and the odd nominee benefits. I know my father, the Foxnews devotee, purposely voted against Inconvenient Truth because he thinks Gore is dangerous for this country.

Another reason I won was the Best Costume Design. My rule of thumb is historical dramas always win this category. Many thought that since "The Devil Wears Prada" was about fashion it would win, but contemporary fashion normally doesn't win.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

SF International Asian-American Film Festival, Part 1

Yesterday, I had a fabulous opportunity to get my first look at a couple of films being shown as a part of the San Francisco International Asian-American Film Festival. My friend, Geneva took me along with her to Berkeley since she was doing a film review of Made In Korea: One Way Ticket Seoul-Amsterdam. The documentary starts out as a filmmaker's attempt to reunite with the eight other Korean adoptees who flew into the Netherlands in 1980 as babies. He finds one of those adoptees, who ends up becoming his girlfriend. Her story of reuniting with her birthmother in Korea, stirs up curiosity in him, where there was none before.

To In-Soo Radstake, he was just a typical Dutchman who really didn't think of himself as Korean. With the support of his girlfriend, he embarks on visits to Korea that really open up his feelings regarding being adopted and cultural identity. This was a very well done documentary. Most adoption-related documentaries are from the view of female adoptees who have already embraced the whole search for one's roots. It was refreshing to see a male adoptee speak up from a more skeptical and pragmatic point-of-view. It was also refreshing to see a male adoptee be able to show his more emotional moments during his search that he shares with his girlfriend, who is clearly his emotional support.

As an adopted person, I felt for him when he hit "the wall of shame" in regards to his own information about the facts surrounding his birth. He declares without a hint of doubt that the information contained in the orphanage's file is his own information. Without his own birth occuring that file would never exist. The film shows that in order to get simple information about oneself, adopted persons have to get creative and trick people into releasing information. When official channels fail to locate his birth mother, he quite reluctantly goes on reunion shows he detests. It reminded me of the time before the Internet adoption search community evolved where it seemed the only way to search was to go on daytime talkshow reunion episodes. Part of what turned me off on the concept of searching is that I also detested such shows and felt if that is the only way to search it isn't worth it. I had to wait until there were more discreet ways to search.

After the screening, Geneva and I had the opportunity to meet with the In-Soo and his girlfriend, Ungila. It turns out that Insoo didn't really want to turn the camera on himself, but his producer thought it would be more compelling if it centered on his point-of-view as an adopted person. In-Soo admits now that the producer was right. In the film, there are brief profiles on a couple more of the adoptees he found that had mixed experiences when they went to Korea and found their birth family. This seemed to serve to temper his expectations are raised somewhat by Ungila's experiences.

When asked about how he feels now on the completion of the film and showing it in regards to feeling he is Dutch or Korean, he says he definately feels Korean. The film has brought out a lot of Koreans, particularly adopted Koreans. It seemed to me that the language barrier and being from a more progressive country while being confronted with a more closed Korean society does present challenges in feeling Korean.

I talked to Ungila and it turns out that it was her Dutch mother who asked her at 14 if she could search for her because if she waited until later it might be more difficult to find. In the film, Ungila's mother is clearly deep in guilt over not being able to raise who she feels is her daughter. She says through an interpretor that she feels always a sinner and doesn't see the use of digging up the past. I learned after the film that it was her birthfather's family who gave her up after a divorce without telling the mother until Ungila was in Holland. In Korea, when couples divorce, custody goes to the father. Ungila's Dutch parents and her birth mother stay in touch despite not speaking each other's language. They call each other, greet each other in each others language, giggle, and hang up.

SF International Asian-American Film Festival: Intermission

This is the trailer that began before each film. I am afraid I will end up memorizing this by the time the festival is over. On Wednesday night, I will be going to see two more films, Kabul Transit and Tie A Yellow Ribbon. I read through the schedule and there are so many films I would like to see, but have no time. I am just thinking how agonizing it would be if it was the International Film Festival, with even more choices.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Go East Young Girl


July 3, 1989 Grateful Dead Concert, Foxboro, MA

Photo by Jim Anderson

In January 1989, I decided to pick up my things and move to Boston. San Francisco, the city of my birth had become too familiar. Its beauty became lost to me as it seemed everyone who had gone to my high school decided to move to The City. I had become provincial. I had been invited to move to Boston by an ex-boyfriend, and I took a visit in the Winter of 1988 to see if I could live there with or without this ex-boyfriend. It was a good thing, since we didn't last very long after I moved out. Boston out to be very strange. Before I moved to Boston I was warned. One of my co-workers bought an Astrocartographic map using my astrological information. The map revealed that Boston would be a place of great upheaval, chaos, and emotion. India was the ultimate place for me according to the map.

Before I left I had various going away parties. A theater friend made a cake in the shape of a lobster for me. We all converged on the shores of Point Reyes. I saw the sun set and realized it would be the last time I would see the sunset on the Ocean. I started to cry.

I was still 22 when I arrived in icy, snowy Boston. When I needed to get my own apartment I had to rely on a so-called broker who showed me the apartment using a credit card to open the door. The guy who lived upstairs sees this and says he will move if that works. It did. It was an apartment owned by a guy who didn't believe in painting a place before someone moved in, and wouldn't let me paint. He brought a guy in who would paint a few walls for 300 bucks. I said, "No, I will use these horrible walls to show that you have no decency. Where I come from landlords paint and clean before they rent.

Eventually, I would date a guy that I knew wasn't my type because he had tickets to the only Grateful Dead concert in the North East that year (except maybe Buffalo). I stuck it out because I needed to soothe that latent homesickness I was feeling for the San Francisco Bay Area. Dead concerts seemed to be going on all the time in the San Francisco Bay Area that it became less urgent to go to every one. Now that I was transplanted in the Northeast where venues were no longer welcoming Dead Concerts, I needed to make it to Foxboro.

I went to Foxboro with this "boyfriend", his crazy friend, and this boyfriend's mom's little terrier mix (some yappy half-breed) in a van. As soon as we parked in the parking lot of the Sullivan stadium and opened up the doors, the dog, who had a name like "fluffy" made a mad dash out of the van and into the encampment somewhere. Then we spent a few hours looking for the dog calling out his inane and oh so un-hippy name. People started thinking I named the dog because I was a girl. It made me pissed. I didn't really want to find the dog, because maybe it will get rescued by some really groovy people, they would change the name to something cool like Casey Jones or Che and take him on to the Buffalo show. Of course, I would be sad if he got hit by a car or something, but I decided to bet on some good souls taking him in and giving him a better life.

My "boyfriend" only brought cheese and crackers to eat, so I had to visit the Krishna booth where they were giving out free macrobiotic food. I also walked around where there were bbqs and found that I could exchange stories about Bay Area Dead concerts for bbq chicken. People were really cool to me. In the evening, there were sounds of drums, dancing, and much other forms of revelry going on.

The concert itself was really satisfying. Los Lobos played a really good set and then the Dead came out and gave an excellent show. I recently was able to get a recording of that concert and good feelings always flow. I loved Dead Concerts not only for the music, but for the very warm and creative people you meet. It was a taste of what I missed back in San Francisco -- that little warm bubble of progressive wisdom and compassion. As much as I appreciated the quirks of Boston and the Northeast, part of me missed my birthplace of freaks and dreamers.

The low point of the concert was waking up in the morning and realizing that I needed to walk to the porta-potties where there had been hard partying the night before. This is where my distaste for porta-potties at large venues began. It was nasty, and fortunately I had the wisdom not to drink much -- perhaps at the back of my mind I knew I didn't want to make a trip to a porta-potty.

I thought that this was just what I needed to give me the boost to stay on in Boston. I did for another 5-6 months. I got another boyfriend that was far cooler that the one who took me to the Dead show. If it weren't for a truly dangerous-crazy roommate, who wouldn't leave, who knows how long I would have stayed? It probably wouldn't have last too much longer since my dad had to have a triple bypass a few months after I came back. Who knows?

There are some great stories from my year in Beantown. Stay tuned.

SF International Asian-American Film Festival, Part 2

After watching Made in Korea, interviewing its director, and having spicy Indian food, we went to see that last film of the night, Summer Palace. This film was supposed to have been shown at Cannes Film Festival, but it was pulled by the Chinese Government.

What attracted me to see this is the fact that it was a Chinese film dealing with students in the short period of liberation before Tiannamen Square massacre. I think I was expecting more of a political film, but it was more a story of the students sexual exploration as a metaphor for freedom in a totalitarian China.

Yu Hong is the central character is a young woman who is just starting to explore her sexuality with a young messenger in the neighborhood. She is accepted in the Harvard of China, Beijing University in 1987. You can sense the sadness that they know things will change between them when she goes off to school.

Yu Hong lives in a crowded dorm with clothes hanging everywhere, where you go to the bathroom in a pot in the room, and there is a buzz around campus. There are young people from various communist countries all sharing ideas, stealing books, dancing, having sex, and protesting. Obscured in the film are the ideas and the politics behind the protests at the climax of the film. It is the sexual liasons that prove emotionally dangerous in the blurred backdrop of the actually dangerous carnival-like protests. She is part of a rather incestuous group of friends and fellow students.

Yu Hong meets Zhou Wei while dancing with her friends. They are clearly drawn to each other. He fools around with other women and he gets jealous when he sees her with other men. They plead with each other to break up, but they cannot let go of each other. There is a lot of unnecessary drama with these too, which is actually consistent with young people out on their own for the first time. Friends fall into each others arms in the spirit of freedom and hormones, but they hurt each other. There is euphoria with the danger.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Culture Gag Ate My Brain: My Super Sweet 16

I am not proud that sometimes I become a cultural rubbernecker. I can assure you that there are cultural train wrecks a plenty. Wherever they exist, my husband and I seem to find them (Shout out to Flava Flav). One day my hubby found MTV's "My Super Sweet 16" and we watched with our mouths open in absolute astonishment. The show follows a 16 year old girl as she plans a Sweet 16 bash more elaborate and expensive than most weddings.

First, here is how my Sweet 16 went down. In May 1982, I turned 16. I got a surprise party at my house with about a 10-12 friends, dinner at a local pizza parlor, cake, and a sleepover. My parents probably spent 50 to 75 bucks. When I turned 16, I got the use of the family's 1977 Ford Pinto Wagon. It was fun. I lived in an affluent neighborhood at the time, and most people I knew got similar parties and got hand-me down cars. The more wealthier kids got their parents' BMW or Mercedes from the 1970s, but most kids got cars described as "beaters" that were sometimes older than we were (ie. pre-1966 cars). Parents back then had the good sense that teenagers have no business having a new car.

So it is with this background I have watched "My Super Sweet 16" with a mixture of amazement, disgust, concern, and a weird sense of fascination.

One thing I have noticed is that the parents of these girls seem to be divorced. It may explain why in almost in a daze-state they agree to spending 50k for renting a venue for the party or spending 38k on a new Lexus, or flying their daughter to Paris to get a dress when all they get in return is whining, tantrums, disrespectful talk, an overinflated sense of entitlement, and total lack of appreciation for the money being spent. The best these parents can do is grimace and say half-hearted, "that's a little expensive, isn't it?" This flaccid attempt to reign in the spending completely crumbles as they cave in and spend the money anyway.

A thought comes to mind that these families don't pay enough taxes.

I keep waiting for a parent to say "enough." I keep waiting for them to point out that what they are spending on one night for a sixteen year old is what some people pay to buy a house. There is no attempt by the parents to impart any values on their daughters.

These girls seem to use the fact that they are going to have this "awesome" party to wield social power. One girl has kids who want to come to the party to dance for her. There is a desire to have a party where you are not anyone unless you are invited.

Some people may say that I am just jealous class warrior and if I had the money, I would do the same thing. My main question in response would be, "As parents, what kind of people do we want to raise?"

If I had that kind of money, I would rather see that money go to seeing my offspring travel and see the world to get perspective on how people are forced to live. If we had that kind of money, we could afford him taking his friends to travel, but we would want them to travel with social responsibility. If we do our jobs right as parents, he will chose eco-friendly and socially responsible travel. Instead of spending a lot of money entertaining people you will never talk to, we would like to teach the benefits of focusing on spending time with few good friends who share our values and are from different walks of life.

The saving grace about this show is that the producers seem to be aware of the vacuous absurdity of these teenage excesses. The car or dress they want get post-production video sparkles around them. They show these girls in all their ugly glory even though they spend an average annual salary dolling themselves up. I watch it because we do live in an affluent area where we will run across those types of people, so it reminds me to do the work with our son to inoculate him from such hormonal need for conspicuous consumption.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pangea Organics

Pangea Organic products are organic, fair trade, cruelty-free. They are sans petroleum-based ingredients, sulfates and detergents, synthetic preservatives, artificial colors or fragrances, or GMOs. All of Pangea product boxes are made using a new Zero Waste process with 100% post-consumer paper and organic seeds like sweet basil and amaranth.

Facial Cleanser

- Pangea Organics Facial Cleanser - Egyptian Calendula & Blood Orange

Facial Toner

- Pangea Organics Facial Toner - Argentinean Tangerine & Thyme

- Pangea Organics Facial Toner - French Rosemary with Sweet Orange

- Pangea Organics Facial Toner - Italian Green Mandarin with Sweet Lime

Facial Cream

- Pangea Organics Facial Cream - Malagassy Ylang Ylang & Linden Flower

- Nigerian Ginger, Sweet Lavender & Thyme Facial Cream 2 oz. by Pangea Organics

- Pangea Organics Facial Cream - Egyptian Fennel with Rosemary & Mint

- Pangea Organics Facial Cream - French Chamomile with Orange Blossom

- Pangea Organics Facial Cream - Italian Red Mandarin with Roses

Shower Gel

- Pyrenees Lavender with Cardamom Shower Gel 8 oz. by Pangea Organics

- Pangea Organics Shower Gel - Canadian Pine with White Sage

- Pangea Organics Shower Gel - Italian White Sage with Geranium & Yarrow

- Indian Lemongrass with Rosemary Shower Gel 8 oz. by Pangea Organics

- Pangea Organics Shower Gel - Indian Lemongrass with Rosemary


- Malagasy Cinnamon Cassia with Cloves Bar Soap 3.75 oz. by Pangea Organics

- Italian White Sage, Geranium & Yarrow Bar Soap .75 oz. by Pangea Organics

- Egyptian Basil & Mint Bar Soap 3.75 oz. by Pangea Organics

- Canadian Pine with White Sage Bar Soap .75 oz. by Pangea Organics

- Indian Lemongrass with Rosemary Bar Soap .75 oz. by Pangea Organics

- Pyrenees Lavender with Damiana Tea Bar Soap 3.75 oz. by Pangea Organics

- Tunisian Olive Oil & Coconut Bar Soap 3.75 oz. by Pangea Organics

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Film: Pan's Labyrinth

During Oscar season there are a lot of over-hyped movies. So when you go to a theater to watch a film that has been praised by critics and award-winning, there is always a chance at being disappointed. Pan's Labyrinth did not disappoint. The film was even better than I imagined even though it showed more brutality than I normally like.

This film is not suitable for children. It is intended to be an adult fairytale with a young girl as its protagonist. Everyone I know who have viewed this film has loved it, including my 75 year old father, who is not really into foreign films or art films.

Pan’s Labyrinth is not suitable for children for a few scenes of torture and violence. While difficult to watch, these scenes serve to create a sense of real peril, ugliness, cruelty and evil that propels our protagonist to seek comfort in another world of grotesque beauty. She is a young girl in the midst of a brutal civil war where both sides reside under her roof, and the only reason she is safe is because her mother is pregnant by a fascist general. There is a sense that this safety is precarious and could evaporate quickly due to circumstances beyond her control.

The protagonists other world is sparked by a discovery of an old labyrinth by the old house where the general holds his position and has a doctor see to the pregnant mother's ailing health.

This other world that is created is amazingly done and is beautiful in its grotesquely Gothic way. The original score is perfect for the film with its haunting humming lullaby. The young girl is perfect young heroine that is flawed but lovable. You want her to fulfill her destiny and escape to her throne in a magical place. The rest of the cast are amazing showing the full range of humanity in a time of war from immense cruelty to amazing courage and compassion. The film itself has a great sense of pacing, almost poetic writing, and is able to keep up the feeling of suspense.

The movie is sad, beautiful, cruel, agonizing, and has kept haunting me. The film made me cry and at times took my breath away. It made me feel great to see such a well-made movie in the era of over hyped corporate films. This had the craftsmanship of an expert watchmaker.

The lullaby still lingers in my mind.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Stupid Ann Coulter Tricks

"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I -- so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards." - Ann Coulter this weekend at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference


I grow tired chronicling this woman's offensive blathering, but I am afraid she represents that wreck that I rubberneck while on the road of politics. Ann later said that it was just a joke and that she wouldn't insult gays by comparing them with Edwards.

A joke? A joke has to be funny, Ann. That wasn't even close. Part of the reason it isn't funny is that everything that comes from that woman comes from a dark place. She needs help. Maybe this is a cry for help? Why are conservatives encouraging her? If they loved her that would do an intervention -- being compassionate and all.

I believe every politician should be held up to scrutiny, parody, and a good, sound poking fun at. That is why I enjoy Jon Stewart, because he will make fun of any politician or member of the media regardless of what political stripe. Funny is funny.

Ann, you are not funny.

Peacekeeper Cosmetics: No Nasty Anything!

Peacekeeper Cosmetics is a very cool company that raises money for women's and human rights issues while selling safe cosmetics. They also provide training for conflict resolution on their website. They have a decent array of shades called paint me open-minded, paint me accepting, paint me compassionate, etc.

I plan on getting their lip paint and gloss to replace all my lipsticks. They also have gift bags to give to the woman in your life who should replace lipsticks and nail polish with safe alternatives. They are awesome!

All PeaceKeeper Products have NONE of the following...

No FD&C Coloring

No Animal Testing

No Artificial Colors

No Artificial Fragrances

No Toluene

No Formaldehyde

No Acetone

No Phthalates

No Parabens

No Synthetic Preservatives

No Mineral Oil

No Lanolin

No Sodium Lauryl

No Sodium Sulfate


Lip Gloss:

Castor Oil, Carnauba Wax, Beeswax, Shea Butter May Contain (+/-): Mica, Carmine, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Ultramarines

Lip Paint:

Beeswax, Carnauba Wax, Candelilla Wax, Shea Butter, Castor Oil, Jojoba Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Tocopherol. May Contain (+/-): Mica, Carmine, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Ultramarines.

Nail Paint:

Acetyl Tributyl Citrate, Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol/Trimellitic Anhydride Copolymer, Isopropyl Alcohol, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Acrylates Copolymer, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Benzophenone-1, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxide, Ferric Ferrocyanide, Mica, Carmine, *Argan.

*Agran Oil is painstakingly made by hand in Morocco and is harvested by Berber women living near the forests, who use traditional methods requiring 12 hours to extract a single liter of oil. Benefits from this oil include antioxidants, Vitamin E and Linoleic acid all benefiting the health of the nail.

These are some of the recipients:

Amnesty International

Battered Women's Resource Center

Cause Related Initiatives

Distinctive Assets, 4th Annual Women Rock!

EComWorks Inc.


New York Asian Women's Center, Wine Tasting Event

New York Junior League

NY Metro Chapter of UNIFEM/USA

Pink Tie Ball

New York Women's Foundation

Social Venture Network

Society for Women's Health Research

Take Out Marketing, Susan Sarandon Event

The Children's Movement for Creative Education

The Hunger Project

The New York Women's Foundation

The Rainforest Foundation

The White House Project/EPIC Awards Event

The Wisdom Leadership Initiative

Third Wave Foundation

T-Zone, Tyra Banks


V-Day Special Projects

We Spark

Womens E News

Women for Afghan Women

Women's Funding Network

Womens Law Initiative

World Food Programme

Youth At Risk Event/Auction

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Safe and Natural Beauty Shopping List


I get my body art quality pure henna from various places. The first place I got my henna is, where I also get my Cassia Obovata. I have also ordered morrocan henna from You can also order other varieties at and Henna Lounge. I have also found a really helpful forum for henna on hair at

Natural Beauty Supplies

I have been very happy with From Nature With Love. If you want to make your own cosmetics, this is the place.

For hair care, I get brahmi powder to use as a tea in combination with aloe gel to massage my scalp to encourage hair growth. Shikakai powder is used as a shampoo. I can also use Base: Liquid Aloe Castille Soap, Organic as a shampoo and facial cleanser. Organic jojoba can be used to massage the scalp and oil the hair, as well as moisturize my skin. Rhassoul can be used as a hair and facial masque. Kokum butter is used to repair cracked skin on feet and hands.

Then I can incorporate eggs, honey, and yogart for hair, skin, and diet. Apple cider vinegar is great as a hair wash and a base for the rhassoul clay. Teas have become a great base for my hair care products -- especially aromatic green teas!