Clancy tells me that there's a new kind of high intensity laser light that is so powerful that it forces a kind of Newtonian Physics on various mediums. In the laser bath, Brownian Motion is polarized, therefore turbulence is practically neutralized. He shows me the famous video of the column of cigarette smoke.
Every once in a while I travel to the future. I'm somewhere in America pretending to be a recent African immigrant. Everybody treats me like some kind of idiot when my understanding of the technology makes me derail the conversation. Then my friend Clancy tells me what's up. Clancy is about 24 years old, and the equivalent of a small town auto mechanic. He's cool with me because I'm off the grid. There are a few people off the grid but I really have to keep a low profile. Fortunately, I only stay in the future for short periods of time, so I don't get busted.
This morning, Clancy told me that he had to go get a new t-coat. I spent the morning getting my butt whooped in a first person shooter. When he came back, his teeth were sparkling even more than usual. Clancy explains:
Basically, when you graduate from highschool, your parents buy you molars and a t-coat. The molars have batteries in 'em and the t-coat covers your teeth. Whenever you chew, the batteries come on and charge your food the same charge as your t-coat. Plus every day you rinse with Listerine and it takes a micron off your t-coat. So basically your teeth stay clean. You can brush if you want but it's basically not necessary. I just got a 180 so I don't have to go back for a new t-coat for 6 months. It's kinda expensive but what are you going to do? You can't get a chick or a job without it. That's why you're a dead giveaway for a Third. Any cop that sees your grill is going to check you out.
I will continue my journeys to the future and start a new category at Cobb.
I've been thinking briefly about what Spence mentioned yesterday about Kwanzaa. He said that nothing particular about the slandar against it warms him to the celebration although he is sympathetic in principle. But if there were to be a more real Kwanzaa, we know what it was that West Africans celebrate and we could ligitimately assimilate real African traditions into modern celebrations. I can dig that.
However on second thought it occured to me that in 1966 when this party started, that body of research didn't exist. There weren't even Black Student Unions on campuses, much less Afro-American Studies departments. Who was going to provide that research? It's as if people believing the Earth was the center of the universe upon reviewing Galileo 30 years hence was chiding him for not thinking about ellipses instead of circles. My history of science is sketchy, but you get the point. What Karenga has set in motion will inevitably be refined and changed over time.
As one commenter has pointed out, St. Patrick's Day was a holiday invented for political reasons. Today it's just an excuse to drink green beer, and among GenX, get a green dye job. But Spence's idea of incorporating some actual West African traditions into Kwanzaa might not be such a bad one after all.
In 1991 at BAM, I learned to dance the Sounou and the Koteba. It was easy. I just walked in and the instructors were patient. It was a great experience and every bit as deep as learning a martial arts form. I don't expect that West African dance studios will begin cropping up in every strip mall, but it would be a great addition to the American cultural scene.
I wonder if American students of Karate and other Eastern disciplines consider their schools to be authentic. Here too is a practice that only began taking shape in the 60s. Nobody who watches Batman really thought any of them could beat Kato, and every Western bar fight on TV now looks completely staged. In the light of Jennifer Garner of Alias, there has never been a real female superhero. And now Batman is being reloaded, centering him on Eastern martial discipline.
We evolve, apparently.
Ten years ago Social Security trustees predicted that the system would become insolvent in 35 years, meaning 2029. Five years later they were still predicting that insolvency was 35 years away � doomsday had been postponed to 2034. Today, they're predicting that insolvency is 38 years away, in 2042.
What happened? Why does the insolvency date keep getting further away? How could the trustees have been so continually wrong?
The answer is all in the numbers. For instance, the future of Social Security is highly sensitive to predictions of economic growth, and the trustees assume a very conservative growth rate of 1.8% per year. That compares with expected growth of 3.9% this year, a fairly average year for the U.S. economy.
Jerry Orbach is dead. Damn.
I have to say that of all the characters on television, Orbach's Lennie Briscoe was one of my all-time favorites. He was for real, and he handled himself. He's the kind of guy I'd like to pal around. You could tell that Orbach enjoyed playing the character and that he was not too far off from Orbach himself. Law & Order may not survive the loss.
And did you know this?
Believe it or not, my mother has a wireless G hub. How do I know? I installed the damned thing. Merry Christmas ma.
So I was by my sister's house all yesterday - that's where mom lives - and I fell into a conversation with sis, her two girlfriends and her girlfriend's brother. The subject: Why men can't just stop at being friends.
My head hurts. Why? Because I hate relationship conversations. Cobb's rule number two: There's Marriage and then there's everything else. I really have to say, though, I actually kinda went there. I got into the conversation, and I'm glad I did. But, of course, I didn't go all the way there because it's my sister and I really don't.. well, I didn't have enough drinks and I didn't feel like naming names, and all other kinds of reasons.
I have developed about five hundred theories about sex and love, and none of them count. Because it really doesn't matter - the only thing that matters is that the person you are entangled with balances to the plus column. Nothing else really matters, and there is very little objective advice to be given. Except for a few basic things. Listen closely now because I am about to give you the secret of life. Why? Because the sooner you learn it, the less the chances are that you are going to engage me in another conversation about relationships.
What Men Want.
Men want, more than anything else in the world, to be told that they are unique and not like all the rest of the guys.
What Men Hate.
Men hate having whatever it is that they are good at, dismissed.
I will elaborate on number two by noting the fact that very few women know because they've never heard a man say it. But it is a fill in the blank sentence that can allow you to know where not to go. Have your man fill in the following sentence as if the first part were true.
"I may have a little dick, but at least I can ______________ with the best of them."
Every man has a core, which may in the fullness of time prove to be absolutely insignificant. However, it is that man's core and it is the one strength that he will use to carve out his place in the world. Never, ever, ever, belittle that thing, or else you will find how deep the rabbit hole goes.
What Women Want.
What women want more than anything else in the world is to be heard out, understood and most importantly, forgiven.
What Women Hate.
Women hate the fact that there are other women who get away with it, whatever 'it' is.
Elaborating on the first secret. What a woman wants is to draw you down into the deepest darkest recesses of her psyche and for you to tell her, whatever it is, that's it's OK.
Understand, fellas, that women do not want solutions to their problems. They want understanding of their problems. Women's problems twist them up in knots and they beleive that these knots are written all over their faces. However we dumbass men are not paying attention to, and really cannot see these knots. All we see is what we want to see (and what we wish we could see). Women unknot themselves by coming to an understanding with someone else about what the problem is.
That means that when she takes you there, (which means conversation and communications) she doesn't want you to cut in and say "Look that's simple, all you need to do is just..." No. The proper response is, "Oh, I see why that makes you feel that way."
If you get her to say "Do you think I'm crazy?" or "Do you think I'm fat?", that means you are there at the end of the deep dark alley of her psyche. Affirm her and you win. Confirm her fears about herself and she doesn't need you any longer. In fact, watch your back.
OK? There it is. The secret of life. You happy now?
The problem with relationships is that they're relationships. People ought to be more honest and say that they want a lover, because that's what people really want. They want, as Pat Benetar sung, a lover who won't drive them crazy. The search for lovers boils down to the basic inability for people to be really honest about what they want the other person to do to and for them. That's what being a lover is all about, your ability to make your partner purr. (There's a really deep cat tangent here, but that's for another day). Men and women are looking for that someone who knows how to hit the spot. The problem with relationships is basically a problem with bargaining. People aren't good at negotiating things so precious to them. They put out too much too early. They misjudge the intentions of the other person. They screw up the deal a dozen different ways. Good relationships are about striking a good bargain with somebody who can deliver the goods. When it's mutual, you have a win win. But what you have is a great lover, not a great relationship. The sad fact of evolutionary biology is that it could be anybody. 'Chemistry' is luck.
The problem is that's not Marriage. Marriage is kind of a pro-forma contract. The negotiating is all done, and of course the ante is upped. That's why single people on the far side of Marriage are so utterly different from single people on the near side. Divorcees talk about getting a lover. They don't talk about relationships. Those that do, well... some people never get it.
Anyway, I have talked too much about sex again. I say it's overrated and that most talk about it is a pretext for seduction. Remember Aldous Huxley said that an intellectual is somebody who has found something more interesting than sex. Actually, it's not that so much. Talking about sex is like talking about sports. I'd much rather play.
Simon Winchester is jocking Lovelock and suggesting, among other things, that human beings are irresponsible with the environment. In case you haven't heard me say it before, I'll say it again. The planet is fine.
So here's a what-if. What if Agent Smith is correct? What if humanity is a virus? Or better yet, what if we were just a benevolent microbe? It seems to me that there is really no way for us to know, even given Gaia theory. Either way, humanity and all its creations are a part of the whole system. Who's to say that our purpose is not to cleanse the earth of all other mammilian species?
Whatever happens, the planet will survive us. Don't worry, be happy. Our greatest duty is human justice, not planetary stewardship.
I just got off the phone with DP, the only guy I know who likes to talk economics and politics with me. Now that I don't owe him any money we'll probably talk more.
He seems convinced that the US economy is going to implode and maybe take the rest of the world with it. Why? Because we don't educate our people and everybody else is. I could buy it, but I think the problem is one with which Americans will live comfortably. How do I know? Because we don't make BMWs here. Daimler Chrysler notwithstanding, the overwhelming majority of Americans are quite capable of dealing with the fact that other nations are more capable at things we previously boasted about.
I had a bet with an intellectual associate. He guested that the price of gas would hit 6 bucks a gallon this past summer. I probably would have bet him that oil would not hit 60 bucks a barrel and he would have won, but tripling the price at the pump was inconcievable. But if there are inevitable shocks to the domination of the American economy on the world stage and millions of poor and middle class folks feel the big hurt, I say that they'll adjust. Sure there are millions of pampered poodles among us who will squeal and keel over in a squeeze, but the rest of us will get our hands dirty, tighten our belts and be happy to be middle class citizens of a second-class world power.
But none of this calamity will hit without warning. We'll have plenty of time to get used to it and, like boiling frogs, we won't notice it so much. Unlike boiling frogs, we won't become lunch. Even if 20% of the American economy is a bubble, it will pop in slow motion. What will we hear?
I think we'll see the Olympic gold medal count drop. People will stop going to football games. Marinas around the country will have slip rental rates drop and docks go empty. Lobster dinners will start costing even more. But here's the key. When McDonalds shrinks its menu and the 99 cent cheeseburger becomes a thing of the past, then it's time to worry. When people's light bill doubles, then it's time to worry.
When more sitcoms and romantic comedies start looking completely fantastic, we can worry. When small towns start filling up with ex-city slickers learning to hunt deer for food. When Americans really start to hate rich people. When street gangs overwhelm cops because cops don't get paid enough because tax revenues are too small because businesses are failing, in Chicago. When city people start buying cars that they can learn to repair themselves. When people stop putting swimming pools in their homes and buying aftermarket accessories in a variety of industries. When the two car family becomes a rarity.
These things are over the horizon of predictability. > 50 years.
I need to say a few things all at once to catch up on blogging business.
Doomsaying seems to be the new favorite pastime of the dainty people. These days they are panty-bunched about this thing called the BRIC.
Today's reactionary reaction was this. Reporters around the globe are praying for Rumsfeld's departure. The reporters who commented on this matter made the point in a rather backhanded way. It was that this war in Iraq is the biggest America has been in since Vietnam, and whether or not the keepers of moral outrage like to think so or not, many Americans are looking at the numbers. I know I am. I think Rumsfeld hasn't killed enough American soldiers yet. He has to hit a Texas-sized number for his failures to resonate with the American public the way they do elsewhere. Not coincidently, I think that the numbers argument holds as well for the tortured prisoners. This occupation and house to house fighting is simply not numbing us with the sheer tonnage that usually gets our blood up. If you ask Americans if they believe that the world has suffered enough for nine-eleven, the answer is no. Forget the cockeyed aim, forget the misdirection, because these are political details. Americans by and large want to be even-handed, and we will pull back and say 'my bad' if our misstep is large enough. What I believe defenders maintain is that we may have misstep, but on the whole, we're still down and we haven't made a big enough mistake to back out.
Aside from the recent delicious detail delivered by Dexter Filkins, there has been a real dearth of reportage that gives us any apolitical perspective about what transpires on the ground. It is my opinion that we are doing ourselves a disservice by trumping up the political volume in calling for Rummy's head. It shows an America unable and unwilling to kill. That's really an important bottom line. You have to ask yourself how we get to the point of asking disingenuously if the Secretary of Defense is sensitive enough to the needs of the soldiers because he uses a machine to sign letters.
Serving the purposes of the not-so-shrill Right, I do nevertheless, feel the pain of America's besmirched reputation on the matter of torture. Yet I reserve my outrage. Outrage is not a particularly useful form of political engagement as far as my ethics are concerned. And I think that is part and parcel of the decorum of conservative ethics as I see them. Conservatives understand that the natural trend is towards entropy, so we are not surprised when the world goes to shit. We are always in one of two modes, putting on armor and backing into a corner or making dollars while the sun shines. The more sophisticated of us master the art of hedging. My view on the matter of torture remains much the same as before. Our monsters are temporary and they are on a shorter leash. I pay no attention to 'international law', and am satisfied that the Liberals among us sustain an adequate amount of outrage to keep that leash strong.
But with that comfort comes the knowledge that it is not my job as a Conservative to show outrage at the excesses of our engagement in the Middle East, rather it is to show the limits of my hawkishness, which is as I said, somewhere around Vietnam sized. By doing the Arab World a great geopolitical favor, we have also made demons of ourselves. The good deed has not gone unpunished. But I am no longer inclined to rate the outrage of Arab states on par with that of Americans. I'm beginning to see some relativity here. Instead, I am disturbed that American Liberals are taking Arab outrage at face value and defaulting to the propaganda of Al-Jazeera. It's bad enough that we don't have an adequate supply of battle-hardened American reporters, but to echo the sentiments that our cause is lost because of a single explosion that kills 60 odd combattants while they eat lunch is singularly retarded. As callous as it sounds, all of this is within the force reduction estimate.
Is it because the sweep through Falluja was a success that the attention of news crews has moved to Mosul? It's difficult for me to see otherwise given the arduous tasks described up close by Filkins. But American soldiers crying, wounded and confused make for the pictures of the year.
A reivew of my predictions. And the big thing I should have said if I really knew anything in bold.
Tech IPOs will make a comeback. (sorta)
Linux makes no inroads to the desktop. (yes)
Halo2 breaks all console videogame records. (yes)
Microsoft is reborn. People will say Gates has done it again. (not really)
Microsoft brands a PC. (no)
Apple ports more Windows software. (no)
iPod makes it big.
GOP breaks ranks over spending & civil liberties. (yes)
Brokered Democratic Convention. Dean/Gephardt/Clark (no)
Blogs break a major scandal and get tongue wagging approval from skeptics. (yes)
Term limits lose support. (no)
Taxation comes back via 'fees'. States use clever rhetoric, fool nobody. (sorta)
Arts & Culture
Hiphop sweeps the Grammys (dunno)
Reality TV shows bite the dirt. (sorta)
A new cult TV show is born in the tradition of Buffy (actually no)
Children's fashion gets trashy. (sorta)
Digital music pervades. RIAA gains a prominent political foe. (yes and no)
People get sick of Merlot. Shiraz gains even more ground. (dunno)
Harry Potter 3 is a massive critical success. (yes)
Chargers leave San Diego (no)
No Americans medal in Olympic gymnastics despite hype. (no)
Tiger Woods gets the Grand Slam. (no)
Venus Williams quits / gets injured. (sorta)
The Greek Olympics are a big dud. (yes)
The Fall of Kobe Bryant
Red Sox Win!
Assisted Suicide gains support. (no)
A huge hack/worm gives put computer security in the headlines. (no)
Americans invent more stupid reasons to hate France. (yes)
Gay Marriage proposals backfire.
Single State theory gains ground in Israel/Palestine. (no)
Most American forces leave Iraq. (hell no)
SARS hits US (not even)
FDA Losing credibility.
Business & Finance
Outsourcing backlash gets fierce. (yes)
Dow 11,000 (very close)
NASDAQ 2100 (pretty much nailed it)
and next to another venture of folly.. 2005.
I had dinner with my brother Doc, the cop, last night high atop the Magic Johnson Building in downtown LA. We talked about the futility of the ghetto. Doc and I hold up the Right end of family politics here on the Left Coast. The subject drifted, of course, to my growing understanding and perception of things Chinese. What was new this time was the notion of the parallels between the ghetto mentality and the Asian identity crisis.
The what? Asian identity crisis? It's a subject that never was mentioned in America's most intense discussion of Asians which was over the controversy of Affirmative Action. And instantly Doc says, Americans are so provincial. Doc, by the way is narrowing down where to spend the month of March, which he has off. He has picked out a condo on the beach in Rio which goes for 1000/mo. But if I'm in Beijing, he'd love to hang out. This is his dilemma. A nice problem to have. But he's also scratching his head about the factors and forces that have the potential of expanding the Internal Third Worlds in southern LA County. He talks about the fact that crack is now just $5 a hit.
He mentioned that the political victory of southcentral politics has been the unconditional retention of incompetent medical staff at 'Killer King' hospital and rejection of Wal-Mart, the biggest capital investment in the area since the building of the 105 Freeway. How do people get it so twisted? Ghetto Mentality, provinciality. I agree.
You see, looking at Asians strictly in the terms of the battle between blackfolks and whitefolks over Affirmative Action forces them to be the 'model minority'. Most people know that's wrong but have left a great gap in their understanding of where Chinese (for one) are coming from and going to. The confluence of chatter about China now is heading towards another new reaction in the popular mind. A new Yellow Peril attached to the release of import quotas on Chinese textiles. The smart money expects China's market share in clothing the American market to go from about 15 to 50 percent over the next three years.
Doc laments that the American Way is being forgotten, that we have lost the edge of our homesteading and sharecropping forebears. He recently watched a school janitor in upscale South Pasadena belt out the National Anthem with operatic quality. Half the parents in the audience didn't bother to take off their hats. We're forgetting what it is to be American. I say that America is still only an Idea. Whomever lives it, gets it. But sometimes I wonder who is going to fight for us, who is going to volunteer for our volunteer army? (As a tangent, multinational forces and interventions are going to be more necessary in the global future, we may as well be a prime supplier.) I'm not particularly concerned if a large number of middle-class North Americans forget what's up. Events will catch up enough times. We'll feel it. Word will travel fast and we'll pay attention. Nothing sneaks up on the American public, we'll know it.
But what of the American ideal and our provinciality?
What I'm hearing is that Asians in their own countries are turning the corner of emergence. The identity crisis isn't at the individual level so much as it is at the national level. They are asking themselves how did they lose it as a people - just the way Afrocentrists freak when they think about the pyramids and the cradle of civilization. So I see a natural alliance or at least a direct parallel with the black experience. Everyone in the 20th Century assumed that America itself was the future - that the American model was what everyplace had to be recast as. But America has been pushed further than that. We are the laboratory, we are not the finished product, and I think Asians are coming to understand that our talents and resources are for appropriation, not emulation. America such as she stands is not the destiny of the character of global modernization. She is the R&D lab and the showroom. We go through all the iterations and experimentation here - we are spiritually imbalanced, introspective and a bit psychotic. We are the bleeding edge of the leading edge. We are driven to innovate and change to be irreverant and constantly dissatisfied with ourselves. Understand that, and you can make peace with America.
I happen to think that we will retain enough cohesion in a multi-culti America to remain a global destination. In fact, this may be the only place capable of voluntary federation. The fifty states are an amazing diversity in and of themselves. I can't wait to get rich and buy a town in Montana or Alabama. I'll be happy to have Belizians, Uzbeks, Somalis and Hmong living, working and schooling there.
To the title:
HRL is the acronym for Human Relations Lab. At Episcopal Camp Stevens in San Diego County, if you were to be a counselor back in the 70s, you had to endure HRL. HRL was essentially a one week psychological exercise in dealing with the agony of teenage life and insecurity. As prospective camp counselors we were give a few conceptual tools and instructions twice a day, and twice a day we would spend four hours locked in a cabin with 7 of our peers. As you can imagine, we teenagers started to stare each other down and ask questions about each other and bare our itty bitty souls. At the age of 14, for the first time in my life, white people stopped being indifferentiable. I knew what they freaked out about. I understood them better than they understood themselves. At the end of the week I had the kinds of friends you write 10 page letters to. Then again I didn't, because I still lived in LA and for the most part, I never saw them again.
Nevertheless, I still remember Coby, Bob, Gina Del Bene, Gwen, and a bunch of others whose names remain in my Outlook Contacts. I still remember the Jewish girl who was smarter and friendlier but fretted about the shape of her nose and couldn't believe she could possibly be as cool as the others. I still remember the chunky girl with black hair and brown eyes who had a fraternal twin sister who had blonde hair and blue eyes. She watched her sister, with her uncomplicated and merely sweet personality, get all the friends. I remember the boyfriend swapping, the mooning over Coby who played all the girls, Bob's convertable Mustang, the kid who could play 'Stairway to Heaven' on his guitar, Lida the Slut, the Dogtown Stoners, and me being the champion QB in the Roach Bowl.
After HRL, people were no longer mysterious to me, even the fat acne-faced kid who smoked, cursed everybody out and refused to open up. That trailer trash kid who played the role and everyone decided to hate, I understood him too, because he and I were still niggers in our own way. Except that I had already decided that I was going to get in on the fun, and he decided to maintain his cool pose. See, I didn't have a lot of confessions in HRL. I could jump on the bandwagon and say I was jealous of the attention the blonde twin from Newport Beach got, but I couldn't break down and cry about my parents not loving me or getting a divorce. My deep secret was that I was a masturbator and that I believe that I thought too much - that I could too easily withdraw from whatever people actually did and turn reality into another set of concepts to manipulate in my mind. Except these things didn't make me cry.
The provincial discussion is this. We Americans keep going back into the cabins and rehashing the same topics. The black and white dialog dominates, just like all the other familiar topics. These days the red and blue. We don't get to know the fat trailer trash kid who smokes. As Stuart Buck's quote of Chesterton states, there are no uninteresting subjects, only uninterested people. Every subject can have it's rewards for mastery. But America doesn't have to look beyond. We are in such a state of introspection and insecurity that our chaos is creative. We keep making that blonde blue girl the endpoint of all speculation; we keep making that big Negro the endpoint of all speculation. They are bookends of a Universe, overloaded symbols inapplicable to real people. We Americans masturbate and ignore reality for the fun of manipulating the ideas in our minds. We dream a world and remain insecure. Isn't it interesting that I say America's problem and strength are the same as mine? Typical, I suppose, but easy enough to undestand I hope. But the point is that we keep coming back and trying to fit the Universe between those bookends.
I said at Jimi, as he speaks about the Unbearable Whiteness of Being that we don't really want to graduate from HRL and ditch race. We want to keep re-inscribing it. On the one hand we literally shy away from all discussions that lead to the scary questions. But then when we finally get into the scary question and say it we feel like we have got to find another way to imply it. Because, just like in HRL, the real human being shows up, and cries, and bares their soul. But it's not enough. Somebody, somewhere, is still a nigger. Somebody, somewhere is still white trailer trash. Even when everybody else reveals themselves to be quirky individuals with their own hangups which are not racial, it's not enough. We have to get back to that same old tired duality. That's provincial.
For the longest time, I've had a problem with the relative silence of the Asian kid in the room. We do our blackfolks vs whitefolks routine ad infintium as if we're channeling some twisted offspring of Richard Pryor and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. And where I've been dialoging to my race man's heart's content, nobody Asian has seemed to have any skin in the game. What I've assumed, with some accuracy I think, is that our volume was too loud anyway. And I've been working off Bryan Hirota. But the idea that's emerging now has a lot to do with what an immigrant can expect. It makes even Dat Phan more sympathetic.
What I know is that in the wake of the Cultural Revolution, there are a hell of a lot of newly minted manufacturing millionaires in China. But there is no professional, 'investor' class. I think it is reasonable to think the same thing of India and much of the rest of Asia. We get the rich kids, scions of those who can afford to send theirs overseas to America for a world class education. And what is to be expected of those Gen X asian kids? Same as the New Jacks whose parents are still Ghetto, minus the cultural currency of the New Jack Swing. The English they speak is Becky English. They don't understand the blackfolks vs whitefolks racial mesh at any appreciable level. They're trying to get theirs in America and not step on anybody's toes. Some end up being twinks. It's inevitable. Not everybody rich enough to get their kids into American schools is Rich. Just like black college kids. Add what? Plane fare from Bangalore and a couple thousand more? Not everybody is bold enough to play the existential braggadocio raps like Boyz from the Hood. Some folks are here on a bounced up house note, with cousins left behind. And I think more than a few of them ain't thinking about going back.
But the Asian emergence means that more MBAs and PhDs, fresh dressed are thinking maybe they don't want to live in North Hollywood. Maybe they see a glass ceiling over here and are thinking maybe now it's time to go back and live large in the old country. So there's the parallel.
The open question is the cultural future of a modernized Asia. And that's the question I want to take to Asians here, most of whom I suspect only speak English, but some of whom with which I will be collaborating in the future.
Now that I've been fishing, I'm in a bit of a more charitable mood and decided to write up something new that I haven't seen compiled anywhere about Kwanzaa. Those of you that know me, know I defend Kwanzaa like I defend my parents, sorta. That is because my parents have something to do with the creation of Kwanzaa, sorta.
The man on the left is 'Brother Damu'. We kids are the Young Simbas. That's me in the front. We are marching for the cover of Look Magazine. I would guess that's the summer of 67 and we are most definitely in front of Dr. Alfred Ligon's Aquarian Center on Santa Barbara (now MLK) Blvd. in Los Angeles.
It turns out that Damu died in '95. Unless the following excerpt (which was all I could get for free) is not an obituary:
Los Angeles Sentinel
Sam Damu, Longtime Angeleno.
Sam Carr Damu was born Dec. 15, 1930 in Dayton Ohio. He moved to Los Angeles during the summer of 1960.
After arriving in Los Angeles he developed an interest in acting and joined a black actors ensemble while simultaneously working with various political campaigns.
These early interests introduced him to a variety of people to include Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Ligon, owners of Los Angeles' oldest black bookstore and the Aquarian Spiritual Center.
In 1964 while taking a night class in Swahili from Dr. Ron Karenga at Fremont H.S., the Afro American cultural group "US" was formed with Damu as a founding member. He was the founder of the "US" Taifa Dance troupe in California. It was a great success boasting performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, several local television shows and numerous community and college events.
So Googling 'Taifa Dance' I came upon this conference program, and I'm going to see what I can get out of Scot Brown at UCLA about Damu and others influenced by the ideas behind Taifa Dance in LA. All this is part and parcel of the intellectual ferment behind Kwanzaa.
I cannot tell which came first for Damu, Taifa or US. But I think the simple fact that he saw his contribution to black society through the vehicle of dance as very significant. I would hope others stop and consider this before being cowed by the virulent diatribes against the founding of Kwanzaa.
Now that I think of it, I have another old photo which is worth mentioning.
This shot was taken in October of 68, the year everything was burning. The fashionable woman on the left is my mother, and this was the backyard of a friend of the family just south of Liemert Park. It was a community art show organized under the auspices of my father's little group. I helped build the displays which were constructed of 2x2s and pegboard, painted white. Again, this is the kind of black cultural power we were all about.
My point in bringing this forward is, as I wrote to Dr. Brown. As an original member of the Young Simbas, I have been frustrated by the distortion of the origins of the celebration of Kwanzaa which travel around the net around this time of year. In particular I am offended by the 'legitimacy' of Kwanzaa attacked through ad hominem attacks on the person of Karenga. I find these attacks a constant source of irritation, and I am motivated to fight back with some historical precision as well as personal passion. Moreover, I seek to express some dimension of the intellectual ferment of the black cultural nationalism independent of the individuals, organizations and politics of the time.
It is not my aim to be an uncritical champion of Kwanzaa. In fact I am particularly put off by its association with the person of Karenga as if its celebrants were victims of a cult of personality. I have my own interpretation of its value and applicability as both symbol and substance. Yet there is no question in my mind that it has transcended its origins. It is that transcendent quality I seek to preserve, and if I stand as something of a heretic, sobeit.
Here are a few more links from last year:
I have discovered today that most fishermen despise mackerel. I thought it was just me. You see, back in the day when we were poor we ate mackerel because tuna cost too much. Today, I caught two or three and tossed them all back.
We were on the bad luck boat out of San Pedro this morning. The average angler had 2.5 rigs and 15 pounds of tackle. That didn't help the boatload of 32 of us catch more than an average of 2 fish each. Our gang was originally supposed to go on the overnight trip out to where the big fish are. That trip was cancelled and we ended up on the 1/2 day joint out past the breakwater to where the rock fish are.
So the expectation was that we would be up to our neck in Calico & Sand Bass, but we just seemed to have nothing but Barracuda and Sculpin biting us up today. The Sculpin is a good eating fish I hear, despite being fairly damned poisonous if you get poked with a spine. Cuda, on the other hand are fairly slimy.
I was over-geared. I never used my nice new filet knife or cutting board. But I did learn how to grab live squid and bait 'em. That was a load of fun, not to mention the attitude of 'fish killers'. I'm hooked, and will definitely go again. Any day away from the CRT is a good day, and like with shooting, I recommend it highly to my liberal white-collar bretheren.
A self-described twink associate of mine pointed me to this site. As soon as you stop laughing, take the test. It ain't easy. I got a seven. I think I could have done better, but I was too busy cracking up. Seven is very bad, it's also average.
I'm not sure how serious they're taking the test, but it's a good diversion for a minute.
I wonder if there are any cypherpunks out there who might be able to clarify my interpretation that Clinton took all commercially available crypto off the US Munitions List in 2000. That's what this seems to say, but I'm just looking for a quick abstract.
UPDATE: I think it's pretty obvious here...
SUMMARY: This rule amends the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to allow the export and reexport of any encryption commodity or software to individuals, commercial firms, and other non-government end-users in all destinations. It also allows exports and reexports of retail encryption commodities and software to all end-users in all destinations. Post-export reporting requirements are streamlined, and changes are made to reflect amendments to the Wassenaar Arrangement. This rule implements the encryption policy announced by the White House on September 16 and will simplify U.S. encryption export rules. Restrictions on terrorist supporting states (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan or Syria), their nationals and other sanctioned entities are not changed by this rule.
It's about that time of year when people with too much time on their hands and too much bile in their guts begin to spit on the celebration of Kwanzaa. I cannot abide this. I think it beneath any honorable spirit which finds reason to ridicule another's convention.
I started my blog because this issue riled me. It's difficult for me to understand what perverse pleasure people must get from their sanctimonious bleating. You'd think they'd pick something actually wrong or hurtful. It comes as no surprise that most of the barbs come in the form of questioning its legitimacy. I needn't remind you of the sort which question the purity of another's origins.
Today, I guess I'm just too old to care why people are foul. I simply call them as I see them. And like so much of the world's wrongheadedness, I'll steer clear of it until such time as I have the power to stamp it out.
In the meantime, a few references from the Archives:
Actually, this one had a number of sketchy questions. I figure it was written by somebody in the American middle class.
| You scored as Luxurious Upper Class. As a member of the upper class, you will always have the satisfaction that there are many underneath you to slave for your every need and want. Live the high life.|
What Social Status are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
But probably not for the reasons any of us thought. Stuart Buck parses the numbers, examining the case for opening doors. Also involved in this chain of evidence were Slithery D, a defunct lawblogger and the ever charming Crescat Sententia. Google it your damned self.
Today, after I finish my annual Christmas update letter, I'm going to read Kishore Mahbubani's 'Can Asians Think'. The preface is already rather intriguing in that it takes a target's take on questioning the legitimacy of democracy.
I've long argued that what makes America special, among other things, is the fact that we're a hugely literate society. Even though we have many different literacies, multicultural literacy is indeed a fact here, 95% of our adults call out and respond to a literate society. In Iraq, they don't read maps. They don't drive cars. They don't send their kids to school. And we expect such societies to absorb democracy?
No matter how many free and fair elections can be engineered in an illiterate nation, there is no way to expect that population to be critical consumers of intellectual productions. It's not only because we Americans are free to curse out Bill O'Reilly that we enjoy democracy, it's because we know how. And so anywhere there are large portraits of the national leader with no words because even billboard texts are the equivalent of fine print legalese, we ought to think longer and harder about the prospects for robust democracy.
This is one tangent Mahbubani evokes in speaking about Western intellectual arrogance in the post-Cold War world. Maybe we truly are more evolved and need to let the rest of the world catch up before we go formulating policy which expects Thirds to enjoy democracy. Asians are his focus, and I'll read up to understand the divide between East and West.
I have a feeling this will step on the toes of the PNAC's neoconservative ambitions, or rather I should say the libertarian impulse which leavens America's military ability in our foreign affairs. Ukraine didn't need America or the UN. In Iraq, both might not be enough. That's a hell of a set of facts to deal with.
OK. Here's the deal. If you were a real gearhead like me, what would you say are the top high tech thriller media of all time? This includes, basically, books and movies. The reason they include books is because nobody has yet made a film of Cryptonomicon which in my estimation is number One. Nobody has also yet made of film of Robert Littel's 'The Company' which would also have to be way up there. What remains are movies, and maybe a few more books. You tell me.
I say nothing matches Cryptonomicon for sheer scope, geek factor, and drama. It's really the top. And in a certain way, I think we must be forced to take Stephenson all of a piece, since without mentioning 'Snow Crash' and 'The Diamond Age' we're not nearly there.
Now we have to get into Gibson, Sterling, Eco, Ludlum, Burroughs, Pynchon, DeLillo, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Littel, et al. What are the masterpieces and what gems lie out there?
I mean take a classic like 'The Conversation' or an updated classic like Denzel's 'The Manchurian Candidate'. Don't forget stuff like '12 Monkeys', 'Strange Days', 'eXistenZ' and of course 'The Matrix'. We also have to take into consideration great comics like 'Akira' and 'Watchmen'.
Subtitle: Professional To Executive To Principal, like Parents
I'm just about fed up with being a professional. I need to get kicked upstairs and I'm about to. Some of this is an echo of The Vector. But it also is a bit of a cockeyed attempt to show some continuity and parallels between these roles and that of parent and child. It's all about exposure to risk.
When I reflect back on my work in 2000 and 2001, I was really upset that there were no bosses of mine at the time who were much more than 3 or 5 years older than me. I had finally done some international work, I was a go-to guy. I recognize now that I was at the top of the professional game and needed to be booted upstairs into management. But as the division got canned, I fell victim to the decision of the principles not to fund the operation. So while I had some fairly substantial gripes about the management of our operation, they could never really come to fruition because we didn't live long enough for significant problems to materialize.
Why am I not a manager of a bigger org? Why don't people think strategically? Where's our funding? Where's our marketing? Such were my gripes as a professional. I was running at full throttle, all capability and motivation. My biggest concern was that there were shenanigans going on behind the scenes and dumb politics playing with our funding. That one group of professionals, us, would be subsumed under red tape and relatively lethargic pace of company bureaucrats. All that happened and worse, and when the hammer came down it was none of our fault. We hadn't failed because we hadn't been given an adequate time to succeed. This is the nightmare scenario for the professional. I could have done it, but they wouldn't let me.
In the wake of nine-eleven, we were all reminded that anything is possible. Aldrige Ames reminded us that CIA veterans could be working for the enemy. If that could happen, we need to readjust our understanding of human capacity for duplicity and betrayal. People have to check themselves when they preface comments with "I'd like to believe that...". Yes you would, we all would but some of us don't have the luxury of such assumptions. This is the difference between professionals and executives.
You remember the Maxell commercial where the guy in the black leather jacket is sitting in front of his stereo and he clicks the remote and the Wagner blasts him across the room like a hurricane? I have spent the past 3 hours incredulously ogling the stereo equipment that first blew my mind. At eBay and various places around the net I have found the objects of my first techno lusts.
It starts with the fabulous Setton RS 440 reciever. The first reciever with a midrange equalizer control. It continues with the first solenoid cassette deck, the Sony TC-K6. Then the JBL L212 was the first home stereo system with subwoofer. We used to hook them up to the big Soundcraftsmen amp and the (Oh My God) SAE Parametric Equalizer and the JBL L220s.
There has been quite a transformation in the recording industry since the advent of digital. And I spent and evening last night at the new Sam Ash store in Torrance blowing a wad of cash trying to deal with it. If I have a weakness that hits me in the pit of my gut it is for rack mounted electronics. I am surely more vulnerable to the knobs and dials and blinking lights and wires than to anything else in the universe
without a throbbing uh, nevermind...
The odd thing about it is that I can't exactly figure out what it is about me that puts people off so much. Nor can I determine if the lack of attention I feel owes to my own offenses or the defenses of others. I only know that when I feel as though there should be someone sitting across from me telling jokes and drinking something cold, I am alone.
This is a continuation of an itch in my head begun in the past 30 hours. It has taken up residence anew with discovery. This discovery might be recovery, but I am only doing so tangentially just in case. Just in case a broken heart never mended.
I missed the end of the short story read by Russell Banks on This American Life. That's because I'm dedicated to a different set of interests at this point in my life. But many years ago when I was confirming within me, a sense of purpose in writing and gunning up my courage to go where that purpose took me, I had a muse and an inspiration. She has a name of course, LBT, but what I remember most about her was.. oh there were so many things. What I remember now is the laugh, the machine gun rapid speech, her love to tedium of Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain, her NYU sweatshirt, her leather jacket and her purple pad of truth. She was like that, of course. She gave you a lot of hooks upon which to hang memories - she bristled with mnemonics. She was a garden of forking paths upon which I stumbled and pleasantly got lost.
Time and distance are cruel to life experiences. They make you lie to fit the joke. If the time and distance are long enough, the details fuzz up just enough to produce a dissonance which makes enemies of friends. And so it's difficult to know what to say when speaking of those you never see any longer. What you remember becomes what you care to remember. Not only does truth not serve mankind, but mankind does not serve truth. We use each other when it suits our purposes. So I cannot tell you the truth about her. Chances are, only she can remind me. This is why I am treading lightly.
Cleaning up my Outlook, I found her in the snow. Google pointed me straight away and as her face downloaded, I knew. Someone could read my face, as if I were in the morgue or checking the rogues gallery. I identified her immediately, a smile of recognition unmistakable on my face.
The last time she walked away from me I cried. I cried in the way one cries for drama. Not because the thing is happening to you, but because what you are experiencing is so perfectly sad. It was the end of something remarkable and there was no going back. Our intentions and directions were permanently at odds where once they were so beautifully entwined. The sense of loss was palpable. It was Monterrey.
In recent months I have heard of her triumphs third hand. And someone who bothered to forward me the e-mail disappeared when I replied. I wanted to see the face, hear the voice, know the work and experience the results of 13 years growth from a dark anonymous corner and wonder what might have been. But it was not to be. The normal channels were readjusted and contact required an alternate path. I could have worked that way, but the dismissal I took as a sign. You are not welcome this way. I don't know, I may never know. Not knowing was prickly painful. I swallowed and moved on.
But today I think I know where she is, and the flood of names of people on her living room floor reciting Harlem Renaissance poetry is coming back into memory. The videotaping of each other writing. The manic ferocity, the tender quiet, the whole extremity of it all seeps through the ages past. See me? This is my gaze off into the mists, the inevitable twisting of my mouth into a forlorn smile of memory: the Digital Underground soundtrack, the shouting at Arlen Specter, the cuban chicken, the mental giants, the two beliefs. So I'm going to mail off this entry to that email address so she can look at me. I'll always be her ex-boyfriend and I think that's pretty damned cool.
LBT, thanks. Without you I would have never focused with precision. Without you I would have never worn a leather jacket. You embraced my rebirth and let me know I could roll like that.
Negrorage is a new blog out there which is fairly long on thought. Tagging along for the ride on the Black vs Nigger question we find ourselves deep into the existentials. I assert a thing or two, raising the stakes:
This is good stuff. But it's interesting how post-modern and abstracted it is, not that it's anyone's fault. We all suffer a bit of that. But I'm going to say two words that should kind of put all of this in perspective, and if you meditate on them long enough then they should be evocative enough to fill a stadium of proper associations. "Mahalia Jackson".
Sometimes I wonder how many black youth get all of their sense of blackness from reading the memories and fictions of black authors. As 'real' as 'Beloved' the novel is, it remains something created from the imagination of Toni Morrison. The fact of the matter is that I would prefer that such verisimilitudes become the blackground. They form a set of useful fictions. But evidently we are in a cycle in which Americans would prefer that every decade has a distinct meaning, and every generation has its own different mission. Brokaw is not far off when he asserts that his generation does not have a mission relatively speaking.
How do we get so far away from Mahalia Jackson that we need to complain about the shade of Ged? My answer is that we cannot unless we have completely dissed our parents. The very concept that America or anyplace has an endless supply of identity buckets for its youth to assume is very post-modern, weird and an enemy of the Old School. This longing for a proper black thing-to-be, this need for becoming is a little more twisted than the standard 'be-when-I-grow-up' and yet it's the same problem. There's not enough of something to anchor one in a set of circumstances that lock identity. We cannot accept the conditions (not me, we) of our nativity, so we become vulnerable to the fictions of those who would help us 'know ourselves' or be 'true to ourselves'.
So where is the black Popeye who says 'I yam what I yam'? All over. Not asking nor answering questions, I imagine.
It's true that in America we have too much space to negotiate our identity. We are not essentially anything. We are identity-mobile to the extreme. But I think we should nail that down and *add* to our basic selves some skills and abilities, rather than remake ourselves. The only glitch is that millions of Americans start off so twisted that they don't have a valuable enough self (to themselves) that they see it possible to augment that self towards nobility. They feel that they have an un-self-actualizable self. I accept that. I call such people peasants, and as far as I'm concerned that's what they are. A lot of African American fall into that peasant bucket, and those are the ones whom are especially suceptible to 50 page books: Afrocentrism, Message to the Blackman, The Isis Papers, et al. You can debate their value but the very fact that they exist at all is testimony to this craving desire to have a black thing-to-be.
Is it real, this hunger, this existential cesspool of confusion, this legacy of slavery, this native alienation? Yeah. Real enough. But it's not unique. There are peasants all over the world, and their difficulties with modernism are the same. I expect to find a great deal of it in China, which means as I have heard, that the emergent new money there is more addicted to bling than Puffy.
I suspect that people everywhere who will inevitably be empowered by new technologies will also inevitably deal with the pain of modernism and the need to become something other than what their parents expected them to be. It will be part of their struggle as individuals and as a people. If you get a chance, rent the video 'Brother' with Omar Epps. Watch what happens in the expressions of the young gangstas as they ineptly inherit power and wealth. They jump uncomfortably into the roles given to them by the man to whom they owe their lives. And they are trapped. But they were only vulnerable because they felt the need to become. It's the problem of peasants all over as they encounter the deadly liberation of the modern world.
Sometimes it's better to stay down in the piney woods and sing Precious Lord.
Things have been going too sweetly. I'm not paranoid enough.
Yesterday, all I did was celebrate the fact that I've got my tax business in line for the year, but in fact my accountant was a no-show. Still, I ran my own numbers and it turns out that I've got a nice pile of cash to spend. But that can't be right.
I'm still running two contracts and I'm trying to wind them down for the holidays. But they still want me working and that means more cash.
It seems all I ever talk about is China around here. Yesterday I found a supportive human being at a joint in Westwood called East Wind Books. The website may be a little cheesy, but the store is right on time. I picked up some excellent books, one geopolitical the other youth rebellion. I have been a little lazy on my lessons, but my accent is definitely improving. I need more vocab. I need more vocab. I keep resorting to French and Spanish..
So I'm in my tactical gear looking like a million bucks just dropping cash all over Westwood yesterday afternoon. All I've got on my mind is 'bluetooth headset', and I'm wondering if I possibly find one. Duh, there are mobile phone joints all over the place. The first one I find has the Motorola that I wanted and the guy sells it to me for 80 bucks. I rip it open and try to link it but it's not charged up, and I say I don't care, give it to me anyway. "Because I'm rollin'!", I say out loud. And add to that a sharp leather pouch that straps my Treo to my arm, I'm looking doubly tactical with he wide wale black turtleneck, green cargo pants, G-Shock watch and Oakley kicks. And did I tell you? I'm growing the full beard back, so right about now I've got the whole Jason Statham attitude working.
Honey, can you take my picture this morning? Yeah, I'm trying to reproduce the very cool look I had yesterday afternoon. Here in the hallway is fine. Try not to get the kid's bookcase in the frame. It's for the blog. Like what? Locutus of Borg? Ha ha very funny. Ok without the headset. Here, wait, it's stuck on my ear. How's that?
I was hungry so I dropped by some Asian themed restaurant that looked fairly swank and had six tables on the sidewalk. It's 1:30 and the maitre says 30 minutes. What? Fine, I head down the block past Scallions (ooh I remember when that was the coolest joint in Westwood, back in the days before the sidewalk vehicular manslaughter when Westwood was Westwood) to the EB Games on the corner. I pickup an old-school XBox controller and the Prima Guide to Halo2. The dude who sells it doesn't have XBox Live.
I am alone, you see. I'm a successful mid-forties black man with no particular hangups. The biggest problems I have can all be solved with money - that is while my kids are still in elementary school. They say that the perfect couple is a man with a future and a woman with a past. I'm holding up my end of the bargain, and of the spousal unit you'll hear no confessions from me. So during this ChristmaHanaKwanzakah, I'm doing great. All the news is good and I'm smiling through my middle-aged grill. But it's mid-afternoon on a Thursday and everybody I know is at work at various places around the country. I call and call on the cell phone and nobody is available. So I'm wandering around Urban Outfitters looking at myself in the mirror overhearing people talk about movies. I'm in the middle of a twilight zone of LA affluence - of upper middle-aged blonde women with unnaturally small waists and large Dior sunglasses - shopping in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. I'm going to be in the entertainment business, in China. I take off the green felt fedora and break the hell out.
Children. It's almost two. I know I have to pick them up. I call the wife. What time was I supposed to pick them up? I know they get out of class at 2:45p and there's some playground time, but how much? She's not available. I swing back by the swanky oriental joint. The maitre apologizes and seats me immediately. I cop a squat on the patio and browse Jimi Izrael on the Treo. It's true, they remember Bob Peete. The waitress shows up and apologizes for the delay. I order a Red Sun and the Lamb. I place the black napkin on my left leg. I check out the Slate article by LeGuin. Ged is dead. BFD. People who look to worlds of elves... The drink arrives, I swig. I breathe. I'm in touch with the abstract world, eating alone.
If you were with me, I could explain all of this to you. It makes perfect sense when I do. But even as I thumb responses into the ether, they come across clipped and biased. But you can't see me out there in text. You need to be sitting with me at this sidewalk cafe watching the alcohol unfocus my eyes and sharpen my wit. You see, I'm at the point where I'm supposed to be responsible for keeping people moving. I can do that, I'm ready to do that, but I need the organization full of bodies. I need to get the cadre mobilized. They need to hear my voice. I need to have the millions. Then it will all make perfect sense.
The lamb is sticky with sesame. The rice bowl is an old comfort in my left hand 5 inches from my mouth and drawing nearer. The lacquered chopsticks get increasingly fumbly as the Red Sun goes down. The meal is one of the great pleasures of life. You could ask. I could answer. But you are not here.
I head home and the 405 is a gob of steel and frustration. I finally arrive at the gap in the chainlink and whistle my kids to the car. M10 says I look like a millionaire, thus the sentence above. F8, who just graduated from F7, asks when we are moving to China. No time soon kids. F9 is all weepy for losing her charm bracelet. We head to Nordstrom to buy Mom some gifts. We find them. The kids are antsy. I feed them Hot Dogs on Sticks. I respond to Jimi's question about blacks and niggers. I thumb it in and regret the tone later. If I had a keyboard, if you were here at supper, I could explain better.
I herd the crew back to the crib. Suddenly, I am exhausted. I forget to make them do what little homework they have. I retire to my garrett. It was a good day. A very good day and my path has put me in splendid isolation. I've been downmarket, head down for three years and an afternoon in the sun has reminded me of when I bubbled and worked the rooms. I put them all to bed and begin watching Omar Epps in 'Brother'.
'Brother' is gangsta. Yakuza bow like Nazis snap their heels together. I keep thinking that when I go to Beijing dressed in my Hollywood suit, I'm going to appear like a gangsta extra in a Chow Yun Fat movie. I can't call it. How many books am I going to have to read, how many stumbling sentences am I going to have to mumble? There, the sit down at lunch isn't going to work. I'll need a third party. Somebody I pay to be patient with my ignorance. Subtlety I can't afford via Dr. Pimsleur.
Today I send M10 off to his biomom for XMas.
(to be continued)
It's true that sunshine is the best policy. Terri Gross had a difficult time, often sounding incredulous, as she interviewed Richard Viguerie on her NPR radio show.
She tried to zing the old codger several times, even though he didn't come off very sophisticated, I would grant that he knows the difference between a homosexual and activists for the gay rights agenda. It's difficult to suspend the disbelief that most Americans don't particularly like gays or gay politics when you're talking in the today's mainstream media. But you can't really credit Vigurie for being sophisticated *and* candid. He's candid, and for that one can be grateful, but he's not a face for tv or a voice for radio. This is understandable - let Ralph Reed do that kind of stuff.
Then again, I think the dodges that Reed and some others have taken are too clever by half. You really need to drag out the rednecks and tell Blue-Americans in plain language that they have reasonable opposition.
I think Vig's problem, which gives me problems, is that he overstates the influence of his brand of conservatism. So it's a little difficult, given the lack of specifics he could reasonably state int he course of the interview whether he fits firmly into a Paleoconservative suit, although that seems clear. Whereas I am a neoconservative, vis a vis Wilsonian foreign power, actively engaged in the creation of stable global free markets and evangelical libertarianism with big government (military + diplomatic + commercial) backbone, Vig clearly longs for mythical good old days when everyone was a 'Judeo-Christian' and bread cost a nickel. I think it is patently true that most moderates and liberals are unable to disaggregate Viguerie's brand of conservatism from mine, nor make sense of our common bonds.
Viguerie didn't get deeply technical into the mechanics of his grass roots revolution of which Rove is clearly the full heir. Nor do I believe that listeners to the interview would grasp how important it is to understand how marginal / critical is the evangelical edge the Republican Party has gained. But what he said was clear. Over 20 odd years, 'conservatives' went from getting 45% to about 53%. What was new were the evangelical Christians - people who were always in our backyard, just not so actively enfranchised.
That Viguerie is not whole-heartedly behind W. demonstrates the discombobulation between conservatives and Republicans. It was CIA Bush who straightened up Reagan's budget deficit mess while trying to be as Teflon. He couldn't swing the deception but nobody cared because the smart money was happy that the deficits were getting cleaned up. Just as there were a lot of happy Wall Streeters during Clinton's career.
I'm the kind of marketeer who aims to profit no matter what the tax burden. There will always be winners under every regime. So it's odd that Vig is still playing to the middle class who like the *ideology* of tax reduction and small government but are not as likely to materially benefit as us crafty bastards at the top of the capitalist food chain. 'My tax attorney can beat up your (lack of a) tax attorney' is the name of the game no matter who occupies the Oval. It not yet clear that Republicans are carrying the torch for Vig's brand of conservatives and this is patently obvious when you look at budgets passed by Republican vs Democrat congresses. It's basically a tie.
But Vig was right on target in confirming the conspiracy of manufactured consent. If you are a liberal and have a difficult time understanding what the righties are saying when they say 'liberal media' all you have to know is that they are asserting the same thing that Chomsky is asserting about America's ecology of thought. And the discomfort of finding out the realness of cats like Viguerie is exactly the price we pay for having a more porous and decentralized mediasphere. Just as the audience of "Will and Grace" can't bear the thought that some Americans use phrases like 'homosexual agenda', discomfort with the realness of your heretofore unknown neighbors is the name of the game. Clearly those against gay marriage are uncomfortable with Will and Grace.
Vig's take on the Culture War is totally Paleo, and I think he's off his nut on this matter, not in substance but in tactics. Elected office is not a cultural bully pulpit. Everything that is wrong with the 'government sponsored political correctness' is precisely wrong with his activism to put enough fundamentalist friendly public servants into office. If you want the Church to be more central in the lives of Americans, you do it in Church, not in the Courts, the Congress, nor the White House. This is the basic error of Viguerie's brand of populism. The ends may be laudable, but the means poke a hole in the Constitution. I happen to believe that such efforts will be futile - this country is already too pluralist and multicultural to ever 'return to Judeo-Christian values'. But what Paleos like Vig don't understand like Neos like GWBush and I do understand is that despite a world dotted with AQ Jihadists, most of the non-'Judeo Christians' and totally in synch with freedom, democracy and free markets. That's why they keep coming here. But it's not the kind of experience a man Vig's age would know. I'm confident that he can't pronounce half the names in the American white collar workforce - he doesn't know what it's like to live like I do - in a truly global education & labor market.
It's absolutely true that this is what happened today at work. We had a potluck. For lunch I had pizza, spanish rice, eggrolls, taro cake, and a bowl of chili. Somebody had set up a karaoke machine and on it was playing Adam Sandler's take on a Hanukka song. The guy in front of me was Korean, next to him was Chinese. To my right were two Indians, on my left was a latino and an Irish looking cat. A black woman and a blonde woman were organizing folks to wrap Christmas presents (donated Wal-Mart) for local kids. I missed the Thai glass noodles and the vegetarian lasagna, they came after I finished. The Chinese guy and the Indian woman were making jokes to each other about leaving food on their plates, because people in the other's country were starving. This kind of thing happens every day in my America.
What Viguerie does understand is the power of alternative media and the opening up of many channels of news and communications. Mike Krempasky can be proud that his campaign in the blogosphere has influenced Vig enough to mention it many times in the interview. Even though I'm not one to advertise, its that kind of grass roots exchange that makes the difference and I've seen blogads for Vig's book several places.
On the whole, I think Vig's lessons are simple but that those who are not conservative take the margins for the center. Viguerie is caught up in Republican success but clearly wants more from his corner of the conservosphere. I expect and hope that he won't get his way in the Culture Wars, which should not be waged through the law, but his brand of populism may bring such matters standing as a matter of course. Interesting resolutions lie ahead.
I actually find this conclusion believable:
One of the shadow costs of an obsession with the United Nations is the preemptive dismissal of diplomatic structures which have historically worked. The recent crisis in the Ukraine was resolved without the United Nations. Someone may eventually remember that the diplomatic structures which defeated Hitler predated the UN. When one considers the diplomatic record of the 20th century the really striking thing is how little of consequence took place under the Baby Blue flag. Of the 50 odd wars that took place after 1945, including such humdingers as the Iraq-Iran War, the Chinese-Indian confrontations, the invasion of Tibet, etc. only two -- Korea 1950 and Kuwait 1991 -- were successfully met by collective UN action. To a large extent the UN's case for its own existence is its own existence. It's a circular argument and the strongest one it has.
Subtitle: Being & Nothingness
Continuing on the racial angle, because really today is a great day and I'm not at all purturbed at any part of the world, I'll follow up on Ambra.
One of the offhanded remarks I made at her site was that although I'm from California, one can't say I'm the same as the others who aren't black. It's a really awkward thing to say, but I was speaking French. My point, because I made it in the context of a Mandarin and a Spanish sentence immediately previous, is that we're not quite sure what we are supposed to be with regard to ethnic / racial identity..except that we do.
The way I see it is that there are the mainstream stereotypes which are half ignorant, half disrespectful and half true. There is your interpretation of the intention of those who repeat them and there is your reaction to them. This is the threefold factoring of ones place within an ethnic comfort zone. Most of us are accepting of most of that.
Fzample. Let's take the single stereotype of black male (predatory, insatiable) sexuality. It's half ignorant, half disrespectful and half true. So what should I do about it. I can reject it and say I'm not black like *that*, but black like *this*. I'm still responding as black along the same axis, so no matter where I am on the spectrum the stereotype is reinforced. So long as I respond as a definer or redefiner or blackness dealing with the stereotype of black male sexuality, I'm part of the cycle, for better or worse. But what of my sexuality? Am I predatory and insatiable? Hell if I know. Maybe, maybe not. Compared to what? Everyone is unsure about where they fit on various scales of human performance. We all will continue to be until there are web-accesible Olympic records and actuarial tables for every human endeavor, which means forever.
Oh. Think I'm a sexual predator? Well according to Google, the average sexual predator seduces a median of 27 people every year. I've only had sex with 18 different women in the past three years, that puts me in the 14th percentile of American males aged 13-35.Such data coming soon to a WiFi hotspot near you. Thanks, Starbucks. Still, this doesn't disable the stereotype because you've got to be something, why not be black? Isn't it cool to be an American who *didn't* vote for Bush? Yes, because you understand the perversions of those Americans who did, at least you can pretend so when in the company of non-Americans. Same deal. There is always something special about being part of and yet not part of a semi-understood group.
Again. Stereotypes are half ignorant, half disrepectful and half true. You accept the premise, you define or redefine depending on your interpretation of the intentions of those repeating it. But you can't afford to walk away. Because some part of your real identity is vested in the ease with which you can wear the mask, even though you don't really know where you stand in absolute terms with the rest of your cohort. Interesting isn't it?
I think about this a little because I'm going to be representing Meiguo (America) when I go to China. But I'm not American, I'm from Cali!
What is California? We're more multi-ethnic than just about anywhere on the planet. It seems as though I'm always hearing some statistic about how there are more Xians in California than anywhere oustide of the capital of Xia. (Interestingly I always percieve that it's whitefolks who need to remeind us of all this.)
But California is athletic, more or less tolerant, imaginative, perverse (in the good way), young, affluent and mercurial. It happens first in California. We're cutting edge. People come to California because the place is plastic and accomodating. You don't have to change. We eat everything in California, we speak everything in California, we wear everything in California. We have snow, we have deserts, we have mountains, we have lakes, we have rivers, we have caves and just about every other geological feature. We're agricultural, we're industrial, we're post-industrial. We have grinding poverty and lawlessness, we have arrant manic egotism and... wait. Aren't all these stereotypes? They've got to be at least half true.
Part of the problem with dealing with race and ethnicity in America is America itself. It's too big. Bigger even than California. I've gone the whole nine yards dealing with racism and I've discovered that people are a bit too quick to jump from what's happening around the way to tha national significance of race. It's the fault of blackfolks because we invented Black Nationalism and we've been dominating the discussion of race for a half century. Even though we accomplished a great deal, we didn't really succeed in our own nationalism. But we've begged the question of what the Nation thinks of the Black Race. And everyone has been trying to figure that out and come up with adequate answers. They won't be found. It's more appropriate, I think, to ask a whole lot more smaller and more answerable questions and not try to aggregate them up.
What are the prospects for college educated children of black parents who from two different states who grow up in a third state? Damned good, I'd say. A damned sight better than the kid from Biloxi who's high school educated parents are both from Biloxi.
I think that taking regionalisms and class markers are more definitive than those of ethnicity and race. Not that I would leave the latter two out of the question. Add to that some generational stuff and you've got a handle on a mask that fits a bit better. That's what I believe.
I finally picked up my Treo 650. Already it's better than I expected. The one thing that I didn't expect to be able to do, which is get signal in my house, I've done.
The greatest news so far is that I can drop a 1GB SD Memory card in this puppy. I'm going to pick one up tomorrow. I can get my gmail on it which already consolidates several mail accounts. It integrates pictures with contacts.
I'm not clear on the concept here. How does it come about that nominees for public office are outed for their extra-marital affairs? Who finks? I imagine that the skill required to get this information is part and parcel of the investigative journalist's toolkit, but who are the asshats responsible for saying 'go'?
Is it just me or is this information rather difficult to find? I mean are women willfully blind? Was Kerik very sloppy? Or does national media attention literally have the ability to get the dirt on anyone? It's an ugly situation, I imagine. I wonder if anyone knows who knows what about whom, and what daggers lie waiting to be inserted into backs - if only there's a reporter to tell.
You've got to be brilliant or crazy or a bit of both to take on the CIA singlehandedly. The bigger question is whether you can survive the success or failure of such an endeavor. All in all, the odds are against you, and now another David lies dead in the shadow of Goliath.
It was a suicide according to this article, but it might be more appropriately called a collective execution. Webb long ago lost the support of the profession, despite his willingness to go the extra mile to make his case.
The publication of his book 'Dark Alliance' set a lot of tongues wagging and eyebrows raising. But in the end it didn't prove enough to be the kind of damnation CIA haters would prefer or vindication CIA suckups desired. It showed a complicated and convoluted series of events with plenty of dirt and blame to go around. In the end, I believe that his profession abandoned him.
Webb's job may someday be internalized by massive organizations. Investigations of the sort he embarked upon over continents and years are the only way anyone can find out what goes on aside from those directing operations. In a publicly funded organization we have a right to know, even if most of us would prefer not to know.
Webb's death reminds us that there remain high prices to pay for the burden of unwelcome knowledge. Truth serves no man.
From a meme generator:
Three names you go by:
Three screennames you have:
What's a screen name?
Three things you like about yourself:
a. my family
b. my hands
c. my sense of humor
Three things you dislike about yourself:
a. my gut
b. my impatience
c. my snoring
Three parts of my heritage:
Three things that scare you:
a. fanatic mobs
we sat down to tv one cold winter's night
my kids to my left and my wife to my right
feeling quite generous and ready to dote
i handed my daughter the tivo remote
i dozed off a moment then awoke with a start
a shouted profanity jump stared my heart
i opened my eyes and what should appear
but a fat porno santa dry humping a deer
Hmm. I'll wait until I'm out of a perverse mood before I start composing more poetry. But this was too hilarious to pass up. Actually what happened a couple weeks ago was I was channel surfing and went by the new series 'Drawn Together' in front of F7. Be forewarned...
I didn't have a good math teacher until my freshman year in college. Actually, my second freshman year, as some might know my tortured path - I was a freshman in '78 and in '82. This good math teacher actually had a degree in mathematics and he was the first math teacher I ever had who did. We called him 'Cool Bob'. He was a longhaired guitar player who dated the daughter of a judge, and he wore holey jeans and plaid flannel shirts. I would have been surprised if he didn't drive a VW Bus. His was a bonehead math class that took us all from pre-algebra up to calculus ready in a 5 unit daily class. I learned everything I was supposed to learn since arithmetic in two semesters.
As I was doing this at Cal State (the class was Math 098 an EOP class, by the way) I was getting interested in campus politics. The class was mostly black and hispanic, offered as part of the special minority program (I had to petition to get in, not because I wasn't black, but that my SAT scores were too high - but I hadn't come straight from highschool). The overwhelming success of this class was a source of pride and embarrassment and pointed to a huge failure in California public education.
Within a semester or two I was officially a BMOC. I had a 3.6GPA in the Computer Science major, I had interned with Xerox, I had my own car, off campus apartment, I was on the Dean's List, and had been elected to at least one of my many offices, all that carrying 16 units. As this kind of role-monkey, I merited a seat on the Student Advisory Council to the Minority Engineering Program. Among my duties were evangelizing the goodness and light to be associated with mathandscience.
And so while I was a geniune gearhead, having ordered Christmas toys from the Edmund Scientific Catalog since my 9th birthday (can you say 'fresnel lens' boys and girls?), most people had no use for mathandscience. Or at least they had elaborate excuses and self-conscious explanations at the ready. In my newfound appreciation of all things institutional, I easily made the connections between the makeshift state of affairs in the California teaching credential business, racial segregation of educational resources and the 'startling' success of Cool Bob's class. Bottom line, crap math teachers everywhere.
This understanding was underscored as I finally started in on Salas and Hille. My first real calculus class was taught by a Chinese guy whose English was pretty poor. I wouldn't trade places with that guy for all the coffee in Starbucks. Imagine having your ability to teach daily impugned by a horde of snot-nosed suburban white kids from the San Fernando Valley. "It's like, you know, he can't speak English. I'm so sure." So I learned (with difficulty, in a very tense and staticy class) about derivatives, mis-pronounced with three syllables.
In the mid 80s, in the middle of the Cold War, in the stirrings of the semiconductor industry, on the eve of a battle against Japan Inc, the economic reality was that if you could speak good English and you understood mathandscience, the overwhelming odds were that you were either already working in Southern California's aerospace industry or you were on your way there. The good majority of Cal State's non-tenured faculty in the School of Engineering & Computer Science were youngish to middle aged immigrants whose combination of poor English and green card status conspired against their careers in those places all the ambitious Valley parents wanted Biff & Becky to work. Mathandscience was the helpful handmaiden to the new middle class, of which I am an outstanding member, over the backs of Khalid, the graduate assistant.
Spengler was my second ever native English speaking professor with an actual degree in Mathematics. I was frickin' 23 years old! By the time I got into her Analytic Geometry section, I had started to make my own excuses about math. It was mostly out of competition for brain-space, what with my burgeoning national student political career. I really kinda wasted the opportunity and just did C work. However I did have a particular affinity for iterative math which dovetailed with computer stuff. So while double and triple integrals gave me fainting spells, those big sigmas were my friends. I could have practically lectured the class on Taylor Series, for what it's worth. I know Spengler probably wouldn't have minded, as she always made much hay over the fact that her 10 year old daughter corrected our homework.
As a matter of fact, quite frankly, I haven't used any of that math in my career. Nor have I used much of my History, French and absolutely none of my PE. But that's beside the point which is that it's damned hard to get competent math teachers who actually teach well. Despite all the volume about how desparately our precious little darlings and poor unfortunate underprivileged urchins need mathandscience, you'll rarely hear anything about Taylor Series, eigenvectors or differentials in all that blather. Good math teachers are just rare, and made more rare by the obscene political wars over putting them in front of the 'right' students.
What I believe is that there is basically no excuse for six years to pass between learning fractions and doing elementary calculus. The fact of Cool Bob's ability to do it in one year is testament to the structural deficiency in our educational system, public and private. (I did go to a private highschool which also had no degreed math instructors.) And maybe the very liberal ambitions of Cool Bob are precisely what we need. You see, he threw a wrench in everyone's agenda. He actually loved Mathematics for its own sake. Nothing could make him happier than sharing that love with students. Kids from the 'hood came out of his class ready to beat down Calculus, and they knew what they were talking about. Not because they were patriots trying to outdo Sputnik, but because they finally got the competent Math instruction they deserved.
I've been following only lightly the hubbub in Ukraine. So while I haven't had the occasion to say anything pithy on the subject, I have been impressed with the resolution the people have developed. That they have survived the bitter clash over a rigged presidential election is rather astounding. Although I wasn't expecting a civil war, it was certainly in the offing. Today I am greeted with the news that the opposition candidate, Yushenko, had been poisoned with Dioxin. Yike.
I'm fairly convinced that this is Putin's doing. What's up with this guy? I mean, what has Vladimir Putin really done to deserve our tolerance?
Since I'm going into the entertainment technology business, I'm probably going to spend a lot more time thinking about what's good entertainment. In a couple discussions chez Nykola and Tooley, the age-old question of black images has resurfaced.
Part of the plan which has a lot to do with the fortune I may leave to my offspring owes its economic deliciousness from the default and incompetence of communist regimes to sufficiently entertain their masses. There is probably no greater oxymoron in the modern world than Communist Entertainment. Anywhere you are likely to find a Ministry of Culture, you're not likely to find a production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible".
Then again, my money says you won't find anything approaching that level of edification in Western popular culture either. This is half the unspoken gripe of the positive images crews, I think. I mean even though we have great culture, it's not all very entertaining. My smackdown says only 10% of the folks who complain about Hollywood images have any Shakespeare in their DVD collection, and I'm being generous. Yes I do have more than 3 including James Earl Jones rendition of King Lear, arguably the most outstanding portrayal ever filmed. There's no shortage of excellent, erudite and uplifting material out there, but who's buying?
But specifically to their points, is there something to the sexualization of black images? Only to honkies, is my answer. I think people give Hollywood and the entertainment industry too much credit for being persuasive and constructive. Surely the high-paid flunkies who fly around the country in service of Jennifer Lopez' highly crafted hair, nails, eyebrows and ass must think of her as a goddess, but do we? Really?
I can really not think of a more perfect example of this thing, this economy that the American entertainment business wants to create than the person of JLo, the ultimate sex symbol. It's probably not on point with regards to the aesthetic of hiphop's bling & bitches theme which is probably the cause of all the drama and ire at my fellows' blogs, but I think it is what Hollywood and America want most. Even so, is it really the perverted creations of the honky mind that is making millions of hiphop fans percieve all those images as 'real'? So let's keep it real, shall we? Nobody created Lil Kim but Lil Kim. Nobody wrote Ice Cube's lyrics but Ice Cube. They are exactly what they want to be, and the unwashed millions are buying just what they want to see.
So if this is a species of the argument that millions of [African] Americans are degenerate perverts consuming swill by the buttload, then I have no gripe or disagreement whatsoever. It's absolutely true. And if you think what's on TV is disgusting, take it from me, you really are incredibly naive. You have no idea what's going on in the massive American porno industry. Furthermore, on the world scene America is a prude.
However, if this complaint is a species of the argument that the [White] Man is destroying African America through a vast conspiracy aimed at distorting the truth about the value of our souls... Well, get a life. And take a long hard look at your own DVD collection.
I spent too much time at the Y today.
There's something about the unmistakeable flavor of watered down fruit punch that lets you know that you are at a boring function and it's just about time to get out. If you have a paper plate in your hand as well, it had better be a picnic. But if it's indoors, you're too late.
It's that time of year again. Winter Program. The offspring did an admirable job at their school's function. M10's duet in the last piece of the evening came the closest any of the acts got to a standing ovation. F9's little speaking role got the appropriate laugh, and F7 got a chance to stand in the front row for the 2nd Grade singers. All in all the family's rep at the elementary school is in excellent standing. But the YMCA is a different story.
I complain too much but this little gong show only carried the thinnest pretenses of a real community happening. After each and every of the 12 acts, another slice of the mob of parents abandoned the chairs and prime videotaping vantage points they squabbled to get in the first place and headed off elsewhere. By the time we got to Act 12, my two daughters' Jazz/Hiphop/Modern Dance Recital (otherwise known as pre-teen booty shaking, but not too much), two thirds of the joint was deserted.
Hey, I'll admit it. I was in the second to last row of plastic fold up chairs enjoying the hell out of John King Fairbank's "China: A New History" and was too deep into making sense of the effect of Buddhism in the wake of the Early Han Dynasty. I did my back of the hand opera claps when every one else did, but I wasn't really being much of a good citizen. Why fake it?
I'm thinking about how interestingly powerful and yet shallow is our multiculturalism. I mean, I've known since I read 'Japanese by Spring' a dozen years ago that nobody is really serious about capital M Multiculturalism. And while reading about the rise and fall of Chinese empires this realization slapped me around a bit. I've stepped back and started thinking about civilizations, and it's screwing with me a bit. But now that I understand about 50 words of conversational Mandarin (pu tung hua), pardon my pinyin, the distance between us neighbors is annoyingly evident.
At my Y, there are a hefty number of Chinese families, who until about a week ago were relatively undifferentiated Asians to me. Sure I have a native Californian's ability to distinguish Japanese from Chinese from Vietnamese from Korean just by looking at folks in the face, listening to the rhythm of the language and checking their body language. But none of this registers with the smacking finality of beginning to grasp meaning in their heretofore unintelligible blathering. I had no particular reason to watch or listen intently or try to decypher their conversations until now. These days I listen to AM 1300 and hang out in the Ping Pong Room just to get familiar with the cadences.
But I broke the shell this morning and excused myself to venture out a sentence or two. You see, the Y has excused itself from providing ping pong balls. So when a table was finally free, I had to cadge one off one of the Mandarin speakers. M10 and I were there listening for him to say 'ma' at the end of his sentences so we'd know they were questions, and I had inadvertantly left my idiot 'Chinese in 10 Minutes' book out of my backpack, which I take nowhere near as seriously as the Pimsleur CD course I play in my car everyday. So while the (dweh bu chee) excuse me didn't raise an eyebrow, the (syesye ni) thank you got half the room laughing. What the hell, I did get a ping pong ball out of it.
It wasn't until 3 minutes later when he mentioned the title of the book to more laughter that I started feeling like an idiot. Surely the whole scenario made it appear as though I might have purchased the book for ping pong room conversation, then again I can't decrypt Chinese laughter. But it was the clear change in the tone of his speech from then on which was messing with my mind, plus the fact that M10 can't resist hitting the ball hard but it never stays on the table. Bottom line, I'm embarassed. Plus, the old Chinese guy that I usually talk to wasn't there at all.
I did explain to Boy that inflection is everything in Mandarin. Like most black dads, I have a series of non-verbal grunts that I use in everyday family life which are implicitly understood completely by inflection. Further I have used to fairly good effect some parallel rhythms and cadences to help me wind phrases together, my favorites being (wo shwo da bu hau) and (jr dau, wo jr dau). The Chinese also use a construction which translates almost literally to "a little somethin' ". For some reason, I almost immediately feel like I've always known how to say (ni xiang tchr yidyar dong shi ma), so if you want to eat a lil sumpn sumpn, I'm the man to ask you in Mandarin.
As confident I am in my growing yet piddling language skills, I know there is terrain I'll never navigate with much confidence. I took 4 years of French and I absolutely hated ordering in Paris restaurants. I can accept on one level that I will look as foolish as some of those 6 year old Chinese girls dancing in my daughter's hiphop recital even though the very prospect grates. Somehow I am going to have to deal with the laughter and disrespectful regard of the natives as I go hang out on their turf. It may be that I'll only make social inroads with subordinates and synchophants. I'll be a haughty misunderstood uppity negro on the other side of the planet too. I can live with that.
My attitude about solitude and isolation is becoming rich, and it is in that regard that I am finding a moral tug. I am thankful and fortunate that I reach this state of mind without regret for anti-social mistakes. I have always been goodhearted in that respect. I am just coming to understand the deeper implications of the openness with which I have lived my life, especially in my writing; it's so deeply a part of me. The necessity of recognizing interdependence is critical, otherwise old men die alone and friendless. What could be worse? I could ask Qing emperors, I suppose. They didn't see it.
In my learning Mandarin and in the efforts of millions of Chinese to learn English there is great optimism. I believe that if Multiculturalism is anything it ultimately must mature to that level, despite the difficulties. I'm not sure where it goes from there or what might not happen without it, but it clearly allows me as a middle aged man the opportunity to see the world a completely different way, which is a stunning development as far as I'm concerned.
I can't say with much certainty that the opportunity I feel personally is matched by a general optimism at the prospects for our two civilizations, despite the fact that it is indeed the theme of my new business venture. It's going to take a lot of time to find the tactical and strategic commonalities. It's harder than music appreciation. Ultimately, we're talking about managing huge amounts of power between us. Our ways and their ways are very different...
I have a feeling that I should just shut up and read Kipling. More later.