Saturday, February 28, 2004

Chinatown Democratic Club

I often walk past this "Chinatown Democratic Club Inc." sign while wandering in Chinatown. Today I remembered to snap a couple of pictures using my camera phone. The underground entrance is cordoned off by a forbidding iron chain link. It actually looks less like a meeting place for Chinese democrats and more like the kind of place that Chinese democracy activists would be tossed into in China.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Campaigning Dirty?

Once again, from the usually insightful

It's Texas, 1994, and Karl Rove is running George W. Bush's campaign against Gov. Ann Richards. Bush appears to be in for an uphill fight against a popular incumbent, but then the whispers and the rumors start. Maybe there's a lesbian working for Richards. Maybe she's using state funds to visit her lover. Maybe Richards herself is gay.

"There was a lot of whispering going on in the backwater," says Bill Cryer, a former newsman who worked as Richards' press secretary. "I don't think anybody ever really thought Ann Richards was gay, but somebody was trying to plant the seed."

Bush says nothing about the rumors, but he doesn't have to. The stories are everywhere, and one day a Bush surrogate -- a state senator serving as Bush's East Texas campaign chairman, a guy who just happens to have worked with Rove -- says just enough about the rumors to get the word into the press. Richards' appointments of "avowed homosexuals," he tells a reporter, might be a liability in her campaign for reelection.

Just like that, the allegation is on the record, the rumors become newspaper stories, and Bush becomes governor of Texas.

Six years later, it's South Carolina, and Bush is running for the Republican presidential nomination against Arizona Sen. John McCain. The rumors start again, and this time McCain is the target. Maybe he's mentally unstable; maybe he has "sired" an illegitimate black child; maybe his wife has a drug problem. "A day in the McCain campaign looked like a day at NORAD watching missiles coming across the screen," says Trey Walker, who served as McCain's national field director. "We had a thousand missiles coming in every day."

After McCain meets with a group of gay Republicans, somebody sends anonymous letters about the meeting to South Carolina legislators who had endorsed him. Somebody distributes a flier calling McCain the "fag candidate."

Bush wins South Carolina, then the Republican nomination, then the presidency.

Neither Bush nor Rove nor the Republican Party will talk about what happened in Texas or South Carolina, or how they plan to use the gay marriage issue as a political tool in 2004. The White House did not respond to requests for interviews for this story, nor did the Republican National Committee or a top official in Bush-Cheney '04. But if the Republicans are silent, Democrats say their past speaks volumes.

"Just look at what Bush did to McCain in South Carolina, and that was somebody who was in his own party, who was also, by the way, a Vietnam veteran and American hero," says George Shelton, a campaign strategist and former director of communications for the Democratic Governors' Association. Facing a Democrat, he said, "I don't think they're going to feel that they need to be any nicer."


Thomas Friedman's column today is definitely a thought-provoking read:

"How can it be good for America to have all these Indians doing our white-collar jobs?" I asked 24/7's founder, S. Nagarajan.

Well, he answered patiently, "look around this office." All the computers are from Compaq. The basic software is from Microsoft. The phones are from Lucent. The air-conditioning is by Carrier, and even the bottled water is by Coke, because when it comes to drinking water in India, people want a trusted brand. On top of all this, says Mr. Nagarajan, 90 percent of the shares in 24/7 are owned by U.S. investors. This explains why, although the U.S. has lost some service jobs to India, total exports from U.S. companies to India have grown from $2.5 billion in 1990 to $4.1 billion in 2002. What goes around comes around, and also benefits Americans.

Playing Dirty?

This is beyond embarassing:

"Gun was sacked from her job as a Mandarin Chinese language expert at Britain's Government Communications Headquarters listening station (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, western England, last June.

She was charged in November under the Official Secrets Act 1989 of disclosing security and intelligence information. This related to a request, allegedly from an American National Security Agency official to British counterparts, to tap the telephones of U.N. Security Council delegates. "

More Religious Fun's "War Room" blog reporting the fallout from Education Secretary Rod Paige's branding of the largest teacher's union in the nation as a "terrorist organization":

"Paige claims he's criticizing the union and its lobbyists, not teachers, but the Progress Report points out that this "terrorist" remark is not the first time Paige has attacked the integrity and morals of public school teachers. "Last April, Paige said, 'The reason that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing is a result of a strong value system... That's not the case in a public school, where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values.' Paige, who oversees a public school system that serves 47 million students said, 'All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith.'"

Big Government is Good

"DENVER : A press conference requesting state and federal lawmakers who support the Federal Marriage Amendment take a pledge of fidelity was held today at the State Capitol by concerned citizens including Rabbi Joel R. Schwartzman, Reverand Bill Kirton of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, and representatives of the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network."

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

A Weekend Jaunt

Saturday afternoon I had planned to meet Caroline in Central Park and then head over to Telephone Bar with her to watch the Stanford basketball game with other alums, but she said, "Let's go to Greenwich, CT because I've never been there before and I want to visit!" I was like, what the hell, let's go for it since it's such a beautiful day.

We hopped in her red Beemer and got on the freeway after studying her US Atlas for the fastest way to get there. We were surprised and confused by a "Greenwich" exit sign after only 40 minutes of driving because we had expected the trip to take twice as long since the city is TWO states away! This whole East Coast geography is just too weird.

After getting off the highway, we drove around the town aimlessly and somehow ended up in a park. Even though it was a pretty sunny day with temperature in the 50's, we were still freezing our butts off because of the chilly coastal breeze. We drove and hiked for about 45 minutes and then drove toward the restaurant that Caroline's housemate had recommended.

On the way to the restaurant, we saw some of the biggest and most beautiful homes that I've ever seen. All of the houses looked brand new because they were so well-maintained. Every house seemed five times as big as my parents' home and most of them had basketball court-sized lawns out in front. Porsches, Lexuses, Benzes and Beamers dotted the landscape, although we did spot a Corolla ("It's probably the maid's," joked Caroline). The houses near the park also had a really nice ocean view. We even drove by a house that had a smaller matching kennel complete with windows, roof, deck and door! At least we thought it was a kennel, unless the servants were all midgets. The few joggers that we encountered were all middle-aged white executive types. In other words, they could totally be senior managing directors at my company and I wouldn't even know it.

Luckily, Greenwich is a very small town so we were able to find the restaurant after driving past every landmark (library/school/church/pillars inscribed with Conde Nast magazine names) three times. Only after we sat down did we realize how out of place we looked. We were the only under-30 people in the family restaurant. Most of the other customers were married couples with 5 kids running around, dangling on their legs or sleeping in baby carriages. While I was in the bathroom, I heard a boy outside trying to push the door open. "Is anybody in there??"He screamed in frustration. I responded, "Yes, I'm in here." He must not have heard of me because he started kicking the door: "Come on!! Is anyone in there??" After sprinkling a few more "I'm here" while sprinkling, I opened the door to get out. Because the boy still held the door knob in his hand, I dragged him in inadvertently. "Little brat," I thought.

While trying to find our way back to highway 95, we drove through a part of Greenwich crowded with ordinary, unspectacular two-story homes and nary a yacht or lake in sight. "Wow, I just saw a black guy!" I feigned shock and outrage while Caroline laughed. We had reached the slums of Greenwich.

Since one of Caroline's stated missions was to show me what life is like outside of Manhattan, we headed toward the New Jersey/New York border, where she is currently living. First stop: the Palisades Mall. She wanted to check out the new mini-pods at the Apple Store. I raved about how flawless the iTunes/iPod integration was and felt like I had turned into Sachin. Next she took some detours to various clothing stores before leading me to Target, where she ordained that I should buy a desk organizer set and a fake plant to help decorate my room. Luckily I was able to resist her suggestion to buy a rug and candles. However, the desk organizer set and plant have really made a big difference. My desk isn't so cluttered any more and the plant helps take my eyes off the ugly air conditioning unit on which it sits, although the photo frame with the picture of my niece winking will undoubtedly make it more difficult for me to blog about hot lesbians and girls flashing in the future. In any case, I think I will be ready for rug and candles the next time I go shopping. Caroline is definitely my "queer eye" now. Armed with desk organizer and fake plant, we strolled into the movie theatre and watched "Something's Gotta Give," a great movie that exceeded all my expectations. Then we got totally lost on the way back to her place because she just moved there recently. By the time we got to her place it was almost midnight.

The next day I woke up feeling like my body was broken into 3 pieces, like the sofa cushions on which I slept. Continued...

Things that Make You go Hmmm


Me: Hey, what is that crap on your forehead?
BK: It's Ash Wednesday you idiot!

Me: Are you doing anything fun for Christmas?
Yan: No, I'm Jewish.

Monday, February 23, 2004

iTunes vs Rhaposidy

Business 2.0 did a comparison between iTunes and Rhapsody. Surprisingly, the reviewer thinks Rhapsody's subscription-based business model is the future:

"What gets you hooked on digital music is the access to a virtually unlimited pool of songs. But filling your iPod with 10,000 songs at 99 cents each will quickly become prohibitively expensive. That's why I believe that, over time, subscriptions will become more popular, especially for serious music fans, savvier Internet users, and older consumers who might enjoy a wider range of genres and styles than that found in many physical record stores. Ultimately, subscription services will have to merge with the store concept, because there will always be that subset of albums that you just have to own."

Too Funny

From the BBC:

"A 23-year-old student with no knowledge of economics bluffed his way into a trip to China to teach a prestigious course on the subject at Beijing University.

Matthew Richardson, in his fourth year at Oxford University, only gave up after nine hours of lectures, when he ran out of material from pages ripped out of an A-level text book..."

Beijing University is arguably the most prestigious university in China. I can't believe something like this happened. Pretty funny though.

Old News

But still worth a mention:

"President Bush's administration distorts scientific findings and seeks to manipulate experts' advice to avoid information that runs counter to its political beliefs, a private organization of scientists asserted on Wednesday.

The Union of Concerned Scientists contended in a report that 'the scope and scale of the manipulation, suppression and misrepresentation of science by the Bush administration is unprecedented.'"