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Archive for March, 2008

I never watched Quincy in America perhaps because I was too young when it came out. No, my first introduction to Quincy was in 1998 when I lived in Great Britain. Now you may be asking as I did why on earth Quincy ME, a show from 1976, was on television in Great Britain in 1998. I really can’t say, but apparently it’s still a hit in Germany.

Jack Klugman, aka Quincy, is suing NBC over royalties:

His 1976 contract with NBC entitles him and his company, Sweater Productions, to 25 percent of the show’s “net profits,” according to the suit filed in Superior Court. Klugman claims his copy of the contract was lost when his agent died, and NBC has refused to provide a copy.

“I recently heard that they made $250 million and it’s still on TV in Germany. I don’t want their money. I want my money,” Klugman told The Associated Press. “I worked my tail off. I got up at four in the morning and stayed at the studio. I did rewrite, I edited.”

Here’s a segment from the Punk Rock episode of Quincy. Didn’t you know Punk was dangerous.

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This made my morning and it renewed my faith in the American people. I’ll be at the Mariner’s opening game today. The only thing that could make this day better is if we win.

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Remember the story about the guy who purchased a device on Ebay that made traffic lights green? These devices are used for emergency vehicles; I’m not sure why this idiot thought his commute was so dang important.

I just found out Seattle Metro buses apparently can use this technology too. I’m painfully aware how late Seattle Metro buses are.

Metro also applies other strategies to keep the buses running on time. In arrangements coordinated with city traffic engineers, some buses are equipped with devices that send a signal to traffic-light controls when nearing an intersection so that the light will stay green for a few extra seconds to let the bus through.

Other bus-borne devices can trigger a red light for the curb lane to turn green a few seconds before all lanes get the green light, allowing a bus to pull away from the curb and merge into the travel lanes ahead of the traffic flow.

Very weird. Technology scares me.

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Slate posted a video of what they call the stupidest bike lane in America. They then ask viewers to submit their own stupid bike lanes. I have to think Slate is now getting inundated with video of stupid bike lanes. They are all over the place.

In Seattle, they have very recently started painting bicycle markers on streets where there is not enough room for a bike lane. You can see the picture above. There is no lane per se so you don’t see a line, but you do see a bicycle marker on the road. Which makes me think that just because you put a picture of a bike on the road that doesn’t make it a bike lane and it doesn’t make it safe. It’s very half-assed and surprising considering Seattle’s supposed commitment to becoming a major bike city.

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Things To Do

  1. Straighten out that whole Israeli-Palestinian peace thing. (Roadmap drafted in October 2002)
  2. Find Osama Bin Laden. (Said I would September 13, 2001)
  3. Bring peace and stability to Iraq. Oh yeah, shirked that off on the next guy. Phew.

Suggestions welcome for part II.

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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he is confident about explaining to the US President his decision to bring combat troops home from Iraq.

Australia has been pretty supportive, so I think this shows how most everyone thinks it is time to go home.

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Yesterday I got 2 hits for “Loser”.

Today, 1 for “sex whit cow.”

While the former is really up to my readers, I wonder if the person who used the latter was somewhat disappointed.

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You know something is wrong when an established newspaper (since 1881) is conned and a web site (since 1997) reveals the con. The L.A. Times published an article that suggested a link between Sean Combs (P. Diddy) and Tupac Shakur’s death.

The Times said its story was based on FBI records, interviews with people at the scene of the 1994 shooting, and statements to the FBI by an informant. None of the sources was named. The story says associates hoping to curry favor with Combs _ who was overseeing B.I.G.’s white-hot career at the time _ lured Shakur to the studio because of his disrespect toward them.

On the other hand:

The Smoking Gun said the documents seemed phony because they appeared to be written on a typewriter instead of a computer and included blacked-out sections not typically found in such documents, among other problems.

The Web site claimed the documents were fabricated by a prison inmate with a history of exaggerating his place in the rap music world.

The L.A. Times has now retracted the story.

I’ve noticed that whenever I have some direct knowledge of news, like I witnessed an accident or I happen to have been following a story for years, that there are always mistakes in the media coverage. Sometimes it’s just spelling or getting quotes slightly wrong; other times there are factual errors. It’s enough to make my confidence in news waver.

The accusation against Sean Combs is pretty severe. I would have hoped the L.A. Times would have done more research.

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I was surprised to see a cartoon by Adrian Tomine on NPR bemoaning the image of the character Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles as it was just 3 weeks ago that I wrote this random post on why I think Gedde Watanabe’s portrayal of Long Duk Dong is the best Asian American performance ever. Tomine is clearly annoyed by the stereotypical elements of the character and says that that negative image has followed Tomine throughout life. I on the other hand argued that the great thing about Long Duk Dong is that he defies the Asian stereotype. Introduced as an obedient and innocent exchange student, he later is proven to be just as real and typical of a teenager as the other students at the high school.

Stereotypes pervade comedy because they are often based on an element of truth, but it is smart stereotypes that make Sixteen Candles a great movie. In my earlier post, I showed the same clip below talking about the obedient innocent Asian stereotype that Long Duk Dong first appears to be along with the funny revelation from the audience that Grandma and Grandpa have brought over the exchange student for slave labor.

Now I’d like to talk about the other stereotype in this clip: the brother Mike. If you watched the film you know that Mike is an idiot. He is an overweight kid who watches TV and plays video games. In this clip he feels oh so superior for being a native English speaker in his own country who knows how to pronounce the word quiche. He laughs at the stupid foreigner who doesn’t. Does Tomine think this stereotype is unfair? I think this stereotype is hilarious because OMG it is so true. I have definitely witnessed an American treat a person with a foreign accent (though usually not European) as inferior for making a mispronunciation.

Tomine’s cartoon depicts what he feels are painful moments in two parts of the film: “No more yankee my wankee” and “Wassa happening hot stuff.” It’s true that Long Duk Dong has perhaps an overly done up Chinese accent, but is Tomine’s problem that it is overly done or that Dong has an accent at all. If it’s the latter then I have news for Tomine; foreigners and immigrants usually have accents. Asian immigrants and foreigners are every bit a part of the American experience as Asian Americans born here who don’t have accents. And what’s wrong with a done up accent for comedic affect? I don’t see anyone complaining about the ridiculously unauthentic “Manchester” accent of Daphne on Frasier. So long as it’s not a pejorative representation then I don’t see what the problem is.

Tomine also says that his impression of actor Gedde Watanabe is that he is “an honest guy whose desire to be a professional actor supersedes any sense of ‘political correctness’.” As a former actor, I don’t think taking that part was due to a desire to be a professional actor as much as a desire to get a really good part. Sad to say that Watanabe hasn’t gone on to do anything else that high profile and we should blame Hollywood for that as there are a lack of good parts for non-whites and people with accents. By the way, Watanabe is an Asian American who doesn’t have an accent.

I would argue that Long Duk Dong was Watanabe’s role of a lifetime. He owns that part and those of us who have done comedy can respect such a thorough embodiment of the character as what Watanabe does. Compare it with Christopher Guest’s style. Long Duk Dong is unaware he is funny. The character is played completely straight as a real person.

Over the years I have definitely heard my share of ignorant statements from people who notice my race, so I don’t mean to completely disregard Tomine’s life experience. I just think Long Duk Dong is something to be proud of and not ashamed. And note to Christopher Guest: hire Watanabe.

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Sometimes you feel like you just need to get away from it all. So to calm my mind, I’m showing more Kaii Higashiyama examples. Enjoy:

Evening Quiet

Evening Quiet, 1974

Summer Day

Summer Day,
from the “Journey into Tohoku and Shinshu” series
1940-45

Pagoda in the Evening

Pagoda in the Evening,
from the “Spring and Autumn in Yamato” series
1973-85

All the above can be found on http://www.pref.nagano.jp/seikan/seibun/english/art/art_2/higashi.htm

Breath. Relax. Enjoy the rest of your day.

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Looks like the Unites States faces a new challenge in an area where it had long been considered dominant. Mexico may soon be fatter than the US.

I hope our leaders will take steps to counter this threat to Americas pride and dignity. One particular quote in the story struck me:

“People don’t eat right anymore,” said Garcia Garduno, mixing a drink of strawberries and pineapple. “Instead of coming here and purchasing a fruit drink, they prefer to walk across the street and buy fried pork chips. That’s why so many Mexicans are obese.”

Fried pork chips? Wow. That sounds so tasty. If I could buy those here I’d probably be obese too.

Via Matthew Yglesias.

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Clinton “took” Ohio, but did she really get votes from people who would vote for her in November?

Butler County in southwest Ohio is the most Republican county of all Ohio’s 88 counties. 26 county offices and none of them are held by Democrats. Yet, the strangest thing happened on Tuesday… the Butler County Democratic Party increased in registered members by over 200% and now has more registered members than the Republican Party. Hillary Clinton won this county in the Democratic Primary by 10%.

Barack Obama won only 5 out of 88 counties in Ohio and those counties were the ones where Democrats are abundant. Yet Hillary Clinton won the state by only 10%. I have been told directly by Republicans here in Ohio that they voted for Hillary for the express purpose to either cause a split convention or to get her nominated because they know she is the weakest candidate against John McCain. To a person they will all be returning to voting Republican in the general election. To a judge monitoring the elections, Marilyn Hatfield, numerous Republicans taking a Democratic ballot said they were voting for Hillary “because of that thing Rush said.” (Source: Hamilton Journal News, 3-6-08)

If you read the article in full you’ll find that this is apparently illegal. Wish they had put out some public service announcements telling people this before the primary. This result will stick no doubt.

While I am an Obama supporter, I will vote for Hillary in the fall if she is the nominee. But wouldn’t that be fabulous if Rush Limbaugh was responsible for getting Hillary Clinton in the White House? Hilarious! But again, I’m an Obama supporter.

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Scientists plan to put one of the twin Mars rovers to sleep and limit the activities of the other robot to fulfill a NASA order to cut $4 million from the program’s budget, mission team members said Monday.The news comes amid belt-tightening at NASA headquarters, which is under pressure to cover cost overruns of a flagship Mars mission to land a Hummer-sized rover on the Red Planet next year.

Let’s hope this is some ploy to get more money for the project.

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I pledge to vote for the Democratic nominee whoever that person may be.

It’s a been a rough few days. Bluntly, I am disillusioned about the election and I am angry at Hillary Clinton. I’m kinda understating it just so we’re clear. I strongly support Obama and I’ve been asking myself the past week why I am a Democrat. I always preferred to be an independent, but when you vote Democrat consecutively for several years I suppose you just kinda think what the hell I’ll register as one. And up until now, I haven’t really thought a lot about it.

Not too long back, we were so unified. I went to my caucus in Washington State and everyone was in agreement that whoever the candidate was that was who we would vote for. Not so anymore. I keep hearing people say they’ll vote for the opposition in November if their candidate doesn’t make the ballot. If you’re not a Democrat, then no problem. But if you are, I have to wonder, are the candidates that different on their opinions? Can you put aside anger for the good of the country?

McCain is a dangerous candidate. I worry who he would nominate for the Supreme Court and thus worry about a woman’s right to choose being compromised. The court is pretty stacked against women right now, so it’s not inconceivable. I worry about a man who thinks that this war is possible to win. I worry about a man who won’t accept a reality that it’s not. I could go on, but if you’re a Democrat then you know what I’m talking about.

I pledge to vote for Hillary should be the nominee in November. I’ll be honest, I don’t like her and I’m real angry right now, but as a Democrat I know the stakes. We’ve had a rough 8 years with the Republicans and it’s time for something new. I’m not going to allow my anger to get in the way of getting these bastards out of office. I hope the nominee is Obama, but if it’s not I’ll deal with my anger and vote for her. I ask all Hillary supporters to do the same. We need to stick together.

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headline.jpgSinbad, Clinton differ over Bosnia Trip

Over the weekend, I really enjoyed reading about this on Wonkette, but I can see now it’s made the mainstream media. As shocking as it is to say this, I’m going to support Sinbad on this while hoping the publicity of this all does not revive his career.

To hear her tell it, she was lucky to escape with her life, landing in a hail of sniper fire. She said they were forced to cut short the greeting ceremony at the airport and, “run with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

But apparently there was time to stop and visit at the airport with an 8-year-old girl who greeted Mrs. Clinton on the tarmac when she landed and read her a poem.

The military commander on hand to greet Clinton at the time, Major General William Nash, told the Washington Post he was unaware of any sniper threat to Clinton during her 8-hour stay.

Also traveling with the first lady was her daughter Chelsea, the singer Sheryl Crow and the comedian Sinbad, who said the scariest part of the trip was deciding where to eat.

Hillary Clinton claims that she was sent to places that her husband, President Clinton, could not go because they were “too dangerous.”

Back to Sinbad… When commenting on Clinton’s version of events, he said, “What kind of president would say, ‘Hey man, I can’t go because I might get shot… but I’m gonna send my wife and daughter. Oh and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.’”

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I’ll let the idiot speak for himself. There’s nothing I can add.

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.

Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.

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Here’s an article that about how young people shun trade jobs.

The average construction worker is well into his 40s, and unless something changes to make the fresh-from-prom set take a sudden interest in framing and drywall, that work force is just going to keep getting older.

In an industry where retirement tends to come early and knowledge is passed down on the job, that trend presents a potentially paralyzing problem — especially as demand for workers continues to rise.

Crews will be at a loss for skilled workers. Buildings might not go up so quickly. So-called “green initiatives” could falter.

And the young people who passed up those opportunities? Unless they managed to land that desk job at Microsoft, they might have missed out on a chance to make a comfortably upper-middle-class living, some industry experts say.

One thing that isn’t mentioned in this article is what kind of benefits these jobs have. In a day and age where not having decent health insurance is risky, I wonder if that could be a consideration of youth. A friend of mine is married to a construction worker and he uses her health insurance because he is not offered any. I thought that was odd considering construction is an industry where you could see needing health insurance. You use your body every day. He recently had surgery on a deviated septum because of the dust associated with his work.

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By virtue of the fact that you are reading this, you can probably relate.

xkcd

Courtesy of xkcd.

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Another Japan Blog

For those of you who liked reading my photos and experiences in Japan, you may enjoy looking at the blog whoa…like…what.

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This is big.

Unseeded American Mardy Fish produced a stunning display to beat world number one Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells.

World number 98 Fish served superbly and fired winners from everywhere as he raced to a 6-3 6-2 victory.

Not sure what to say. Sorry Federer? Better luck next time? I don’t have a beef with Federer, but like a lot of people I always root for the underdog. Well done.

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Apparently unnerved by recent unrest among Tibetans and fearful of protests in the heart of the capital, China has told broadcast officials it will bar live television shots from the vast square during the Games.

A ban on live broadcasts would disrupt the plans of NBC and other major international networks, who have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to broadcast the Aug. 8-24 Games and are counting on eye-pleasing live shots from the iconic square.

Please remind me exactly why China was chosen to host the Olympics. That was a really dumb move by the International Olympic Committee that I think they will end up paying for. I have no desire to see any of the games.

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Just what was this political consultant thinking?

Victor DiMaio, a political consultant from Tampa, tried to make the claim that Florida voters were being disenfranchised by the state Democratic party and the Democratic National Committee.

One problem. He never voted in the Florida Primary.

Well, one of the problems the judges had with the suit was that Mr. DiMaio hadn’t actually voted yet, so technically he wasn’t disenfranchised. The ruling suggested that he might have better grounds for another lawsuit now that he has participated in Florida’s Jan. 29 contest, and it mentioned case law that could be included in a new suit.

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Your boss asks you to urinate in a bag:

Union officials in Colorado say a Qwest supervisor tried to cut down on lengthy bathroom breaks by telling workmen to use disposable urinal bags in the field.

The manager distributed the bags to 25 male field technicians, telling them not to waste time leaving a job site to search for a public bathroom, the Rocky Mountain News reported Thursday.

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In addition to cars that know if you crossed the border into Canada:

Payless, a California based rental car company, settles a suit from their use of GPS tracking of their rental cars. The case was brought by CA’s Attorney General and the settlement requires Payless to reimburse customers who had been fined $1 per mile for leaving the state, in addtion to a $250,000 fine.

The contention arises on whether renters had sufficient warning of Payless’ tracking of their whereabouts. A similar issue arose after a Connecticut car rental company tracked their cars and fined renters exceeding the speed limit.

Coffee machines that know how you like your cup of joe.

Now your doctor can know whether or not you’ve taken your pills:

Earlier this month, scientists at Georgia Tech announced their invention of a necklace that records the date and time at which a person swallows his prescription medicine. The device (which looks more like a dog collar than jewelry) responds to a tiny magnet in the pill as it travels down the esophagus. Other recently developed similar technologies include a drug-filled prosthetic tooth that slowly drips medicine into the mouth and a pill bottle that sends a wireless message to your pharmacist every time it’s opened.

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I caught this film accidentally on television a while back. It’s great. Stockard Channing plays a woman who gets revenge on all the people who were mean to her before she got plastic surgery. And she comes up with really creative silly ways to kill people. For everyone who was ever teased in school this movie is your fantasy. It’s written by Joan Rivers.

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