Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Tagged


Tagged by the inimitable Sluggo. The rules entail choosing five from the list below, and completing the thought as a member of that profession. I then need to tag another blogger. Here we go:

If I could be a psychologist. . . I'd write a three-volume textbook entitled "The Pathologies of Joe Biden."

If I could be a Jedi. . . I’d refuse to utter a word of dialogue from George Lucas. Mediocre director, he is.

If I could be a linguist. . . of course one can’t “be,” unless one “is,” or once “was,” in which case one “isn’t,” unless the Inuits have three names for you. And I'd give my colleague Noam Chomsky a wedgie.

If I could be an athlete…I’d never use the words “fortunate,” “step-up,” “gettin' it done,” or “execute.”

If I could be a TV-Chat Show host…I’d have Christopher Hitchens, Dennis Miller, Tom Wolfe, Condoleeza Rice, Keith Richards, and Salma Hayek on every night. With Bryan Lamb asking questions.

Seems that many have already been tagged, hmmm, how about RJMcinnis @ R Cubed?

Full List:

If I could be a scientist...If I could be a farmer...If I could be a musician...If I could be a doctor...If I could be a painter...If I could be a gardener...If I could be a missionary...If I could be a chef...If I could be an architect...If I could be a linguist...If I could be a psychologist...If I could be a librarian...If I could be an athlete...If I could be a lawyer...If I could be an innkeeper...If I could be a professor...If I could be a writer...If I could be a backup dancer...If I could be a llama-rider...If I could be a bonnie pirate...If I could be a midget stripper...If I could be a proctologist...If I could be a TV-Chat Show host...If I could be an actor...If I could be a judge...If I could be a Jedi...If I could be a mob boss...If I could be an acrobat...If I could be a particle physicist...If I could be a cop...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Step Too Far?

After my first visit to China 15 years ago, and seeing the rapid development in the cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, I remember thinking that learning Cantonese or Mandarin would begin to displace Spanish, French, and German as offered languages in middle and high schools within our lifetime.

With the relocation of customer service departments to India ("my name is Ramesh, what is the serial number on the back of your computer?"), most people have experienced (but not accepted) the outsourcing of back-office and customer support functions to these developing countries.

But maybe the Brits have taken things a step too far. They've outsourced a teaching function, and not by importing the teachers. They ship the papers overseas to be graded:
In a new twist in the debate over outsourcing, some half a million exam papers from Britain's main secondary school leaving certificate are to be graded in India to save money.

Papers for Britain's key GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams are to be sent to India for marking in a controversial move to cut costs.

Papers for Britain's key GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams are to be sent to India for marking in a controversial move to cut costs.

So not only will Ramesh help to diagnose that spyware that's infected your hard drive, he'll also be grading the final exams of British school kids.

Now I've found that doing business with Indians can be a delightful experience, but, for the sake of the British schoolkids whose future lies in his hands, I hope Ramesh has learned that the "V" is not pronounced like a "W".

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Vive La France


Watched C-Span last night and saw Jacques Chirac’s TV appearance at the Elysees Palace with a group of young people concerned about ratifying the EU Constitution. Chirac’s performance apparently has backfired, leading to an increase in “non” support for the referendum. It is easy to see why.

This is how the discussion went:

Concerned youth: “I just graduated from university and I can’t find a job.”


Chirac: “I don’t understand the fear in the younger generation.”

Concerned youth: “But what would ratifying the Constitution do for us?”

Chirac: “French values of equality and human rights will be codified as European values.”

Concerned youth: “But what’s in it for us?”

Chirac: “China, India, and the U.S. are getting bigger. We need to get bigger.”

Concerned youth: “But what’s in it for us?”

Chirac: “France will be unified with a greater Europe.”

Concerned youth: “But won’t this lead to more globalization and privatization of the public sector, threatening our security?”

Chirac: “France will make its own economic decisions, even though our unemployment rate remains too high.”

Concerned youth: “But what’s in it for us?”

Both sides talking past each other. Chirac could offer no concrete value proposition to the unemployed youth, and the questioners were less interested in creating economic conditions that could lead to more opportunities than in maintaining their pathetic status quo as a subsidized ward of the state.

It’s clear that the EU constitution was written by and for the technocratic political class, and the younger generation of France has no intention of competing economically on the world stage. Vive la France.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

We Know What Too Much Steroid Use...

...does to the male anatomy. In full shrink here:

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Calling All You Baseball Purists...

...if steroids is cheating, why not this?

One Story That's Guaranteed To Change...

...Sometimes I wonder why they even report these stories. Speculation on the details of the Big Bang, and the state of matter a fraction of a second some 13 billion years ago, seems frivolous at best:
Link: For a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang that scientists say gave rise to the universe, all matter was in the form of this liquid, called a quark-gluon plasma, the researchers said. "We have a new state of matter," said Sam Aronson, associate laboratory director for high-energy and nuclear physics at the Brookhaven National Laboratory.
I'm no physicist, but who's going to prove this guy wrong? And us lay-folk just lap up these stories and shake our head in wonderment. In a few months we'll have another story that contradicts this story, and we'll all just be amazed again.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Johnnie Johnson R.I.P.

Master of Boogie Woogie
Chuck Berry's musical muse, subject of "Johnnie B. Goode," and the father of rock and roll boogie woogie piano, is dead at 80. That masterful piano tinkling over such classics as "Maybelline," "No Particular Place to Go," and "Roll Over Beethoven" were all from Johnnie Johnson's hand. And the case can be made that the songs themselves originated from his fingers:
Johnson played an important collaborative role in the process of composition,
often hammering out the music on the piano while Berry converted it to guitar
and wrote the lyrics, but Berry claimed sole credit as performer and songwriter.
Thus, while the royalties rolled in for Berry, Johnson had little to show for
his musical career.
Johnson was the shy, retiring type who was more comfortable as a sideman; Keith Richards, himself a Berry aficionado, rescued Johnson's career and gave him the notoriety that he deserved with his "Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll" project. Johnson was ultimately inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
There's nothing like good honky-tonk, barrell-roll piano over three chord, uptempo blues in 4/4 time. This guy was the master. Chuck Berry's comments here.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I've Stolen the Log-On to Dad's Blog, And Thought...

...I'd take it for a spin.

Hello. My name is Spear Daughter and I would like to say thank you for reading and commenting on my father's site. He appreciates your support.

I'm a freshman in high school and I'm working hard in my advanced courses. I'm unsure what I want to do for a career, but I guess it's too early to decide that at my age. I believe I'll study science and history, at least that's what I would like to pursue at the moment. Next year I'm going to take AP European History, and I'm quite excited about that. I was on the freshman volleyball team this past fall and I improved my skills to an extent that I may have a chance to make Junior Varsity next year. I also play softball for my city league; it's my favorite game to play because I love the adrenaline rush of facing a pitcher.

May I have your permission to rant? It's hard to be a teenager these days. To sum it up in one word, I would have to choose "drama." So, drama takes the stage during brunch and lunch. Everyone thinks about themselves and how to get attention. I hate it. Why can't people see that it's much better to think about other people and be loved? I don't know. There have been many drama performances within my group of friends, and it's not fun to listen to a friend and her boyfriend totally yell at others saying , "You guys don't accept us! Why do you hate us so much?" when it really isn't the case at all? Jeez, sometimes it gets too boring to hear. One after another after another. Very tiring. But I guess that's just a part of life huh?

Argh, Dad won't let me put my picture on this site.

Well, as you might know, I attended the U2 concert with my dad. I had a great time and was enthusiastic to see Bono perform on stage. Basically, to most people it was a sermon onstage, but in my opinion, he preaches just right. He talks in a way that's so subtle and calm, and doesn't have the extreme liberalism of Michael Moore. But don't think about his ethics - listen to their music. The creativity that they put in their songs is spectacular, and just listen to the context and complexity of the rhythm. It's outstanding. And I got a really awesome shirt out of the deal too lol.

Well, I hope this experiment went well....ttyl.

SD

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Bono-ed

Pastor Bono
Walking out of the U2 concert last Saturday night at San Jose's HP Pavilion, my friend turned to me and said "now I won't have to go to church tomorrow." We'd just participated in a 20,000 strong worship service dedicated to eliminating world suffering, conducted by a leather-jacket clad Bono, and delivered at 200 decibels.
And the preaching was oddly tolerable, and the vibe was surprisingly multi-denominational. I didn't even cringe when he recited the U.N. charter on Human Rights, nor when he mimicked an Abu Ghraib prisoner in a blindfold. He asked us to text-message his website for ending world poverty, and his name-dropping of the Pope, Mandela, and Bush didn't seem forced or overly self-aggrandizing. He even complimented the U.S. military's courage after a generic anti-war song that featured a video backdrop of a B-2 bomber. He ended one sermon on Africa by saying he didn't want our money but wanted our attention, and he ended the concert with a song about the 40th Psalm.
So what does all this mean? For starters, Bono can fill the shoes of his own messianic complex. His singing is almost a distraction to his larger goals. Secondly, a good rock show can melt the crusty cynicism of a 40-something foreign policy hawk and convert him, if only for two hours, into a mushy one-worlder. The Realist needs a dose of Idealism to keep from being buried by the world's imperfections.
Thirdly, and most importantly, my 15-year old daughter was on her feet the whole show and thinks he's the bomb.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Great Movie Gaffes


Michael Corleone fully revived

All of the Vatican coverage on TV has reminded me of the uneven movie Godfather III, which includes one of my favorite movie gaffes.

Pacino and Coppolla are great artists, but Coppolla can get real sloppy. In the movie, Michael Corleone is giving an impromptu confession to a Cardinal in an outdoor courtyard at the Vatican.

Michael suffers from diabetes, and during their discussion he suddenly lapses into a diabetic stroke. As he collapses, he frantically tells the Cardinal he needs sugar.

The Cardinal claps three times, and in a flash a servant miraculously appears from the shadows carrying a silver tray with a full pitcher of fructose-laden orange juice and a dozen Milky Way bars, carefully arranged.

Michael grabs the bars, quickly rips them open, chomps on a couple bites, and then slurps down a nice cold tall one of Florida’s finest. Total elapsed time from onset to fully ingested Milky Way is about ten seconds.

Maybe this is standard operating procedure at the Vatican, servants waiting behind each pillar with sugary sweets to respond to any potential diabetic attack. But my suspension of disbelief for the movie evaporated for the next 15 minutes.

Do you have any other examples?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

What's With The Segway?

Gimmick or Innovation?
How come we don't see streets teeming with Segways? It seems like a nifty gadget, environmentally friendly, electrically powered, capable of speeds past 12 miles per hour, and looks like a lot of fun...can't someone find a market for it? Two years past its European introduction, the BBC is asking why it's not a big hit:
"But walking is free, natural and we all know how to do it, so why
pay thousands for a Segway?" he says. "And if you don't want to walk why not get
a bike, again it's much cheaper. The Segway doesn't seem to have massive
practical benefits over other products or our own legs.
"
And then you've got the minor problem of its legality. Only electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters are allowed on sidewalks. And with a price tag in the thousands of dollars, you want to be able to use it outside of your backyard. Marketing tends to be focused around warehouses, golfcourses, and airports.
Maybe they should be focusing more on this niche. Why haven't you bought a Segway?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Chilling...

That's how I'd describe Ruth Bader Ginsburg's recent speech to a conference of lawyers:

NYTimes: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court embraced the
practice of consulting foreign legal decisions on Friday, rejecting the argument
from conservatives that United States law should not take international thinking
into account.

"The notion that it is improper to look beyond the borders of
the United States in grappling with hard questions has a certain kinship to the
view that the U.S. Constitution is a document essentially frozen in time as of
the date of its ratification," Justice Ginsburg said.

"Even more so today, the United States is subject to the scrutiny of a candid world," she said. "What the United States does, for good or for ill, continues to be watched by the
international community, in particular by organizations concerned with the
advancement of the rule of law and respect for human dignity."


So not only do we have to worry about precedents from whacked judges within the U.S., but Justices like Ginsburg will be scouring the world courts for the latest, globally-adopted penumbra of a shadow of a mirage. And we wouldn't want any U.S. law to offend the sensibilities of world public opinion.

Why not just adopt an exchange program whereby judges in the Hague and the French courts do stints on the U.S. Supreme court, and vice versa? Kind of like a study-abroad program for judges. Wouldn't we be cross-polinating all of the collective wisdom of the European sophisticates and improving our jurisprudence? And besides, we'd get judges who wear those funny wigs.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Given The Events of the Past Weekend...

...you might want to re-calibrate your belief system through this test.

I'd give you my results but slight variations seem to shuffle the order pretty significantly. That being said, I don't know how you reconcile Liberal Quaker, Sikhism, Taoism, Ba'hai, and Liberal Protestantism, but maybe I can corner the market.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Give This Man His Due

Funniest Man On Television
Ryan Stiles is the funniest man on television. His improv work on "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" has got to rank up there with the greats, but he doesn't seem to get the acclaim of a Jim Carrey or Robin Williams. I've been watching WLII re-runs on a cable channel and he's dead on every night. He and his improv sidekick Colin Mochrie have developed a hilarious symbiosis that never seems forced or false. I haven't watched the Drew Carey show, so I don't know how he comes across in a character role, but he truly is King of the Improv.
WLII isn't in production any longer (although the re-runs are on nightly), and Stiles apparently isn't working. How can that be? Give this man his due, he needs a show.