Thursday, January 31, 2008

Americans in China for Obama

This is where I was on Tuesday. I'm inspired. Well, at least enough to link to this article.

Obama Blizzard blows through China

The Shanghaiist was also there.

Friday, January 25, 2008

You're the Best Around!

I don't know how I went so long without watching "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" because this is the funniest show on television. Yes, funnier than the Office (US), or hell - anything since Seinfeld. Yes, it's funnier than the Simpsons and South Park.

The above video has Sweet Dee and Charlie training for fights while on steroids. Seriously, check it out. Yes, I'm lame for only getting into the show 3 season in.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

One of the things you miss in living in China is realizing when holidays are. Today, in the US, is Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, of course. Something I would have forgotten about, if not for the NBA coverage. So thanks NBA! (And TrueHoop)

I wanted to re-print Dr. King's speech from when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 - also linked on TrueHoop.

Modern man has brought this whole world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future. He has reached new and astonishing peaks of scientific success. He has produced machines that think and instruments that peer into the unfathomable ranges of interstellar space. He has built gigantic bridges to span the seas and gargantuan buildings to kiss the skies. His airplanes and spaceships have dwarfed distance, placed time in chains, and carved highways through the stratosphere. This is a dazzling picture of modern man's scientific and technological progress.

Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.

Every man lives in two realms, the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live. Our problem today is that we have allowed the internal to become lost in the external. We have allowed the means by which we live to outdistance the ends for which we live. So much of modern life can be summarized in that arresting dictum of the poet Thoreau: "Improved means to an unimproved end." This is the serious predicament, the deep and haunting problem confronting modern man. If we are to survive today, our moral and spiritual "lag" must be eliminated. Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul. When the "without" of man's nature subjugates the "within," dark storm clouds begin to form in the world.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Buggati Veyron vs. Christiano Ronaldo (wearing the new Nike Mercurial Vapors)

Who's faster?

I had heard a rumor that C. Ronaldo had issues with his feet because he was wearing boots 1.5 sizes too small because he wanted the touch. Wow.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

There Will Be Awards

One of the things I really miss about living in Los Angeles (which is kind of stupid since I never really lived here as an adult, nor did I take advantage of it more than a handful of times) was being close to the film industry. With a free night on Tuesday, I took in Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" at the Hollywood Arclight theatre - which is the only place playing it for now (it opens in New York next week - I think).It really doesn't sound interesting. A 2 hour and 40 minute story about turn-of-the-century US oil drilling in California, loosely based on Upton Sinclair's "Oil"? (If you don't remember your AP US History - or never took it, Upton Sinclair was a muckracking journalist - who is most famed for his book "The Jungle" which explored the dirty side of the meat industry and directly led to the FDA and the imposition of standards in the meat packing and butchering industry. Oil is his novelization of the development of the US oil industry. But the movie concentrates on the first 150 pages of the book - and the relationship between an oilman and his son. It's an amazing character study - Daniel Day Lewis just KILLS this role - of a hateful, misanthrope, setting it against the background of the early days of the oil industry in California. I don't know when this will be playing in your local theatre (it was only playing in one movie theatre in LA) but go see it. I suspect it should be in China soon - because its Oscar season.The soundtrack, but Radiohead's guitarist Johnny Greenwood is jarring and amazing. The best movie of the year.

The Audacity of Hope

I think this is a good time to re-visit Obama's speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention:
I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, awarethat my parents' dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand hereknowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owea debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no othercountry on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather toaffirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of ourskyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy.Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in adeclaration made over two hundred years ago, "We hold these truths tobe self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowedby their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these arelife, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams ofits people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in ourchildren at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe fromharm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, withouthearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and startour own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody's son. Thatwe can participate in the political process without fear ofretribution, and that our votes will be counted--or at least, most ofthe time.
This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values andcommitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we aremeasuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise offuture generations. And fellow Americans--Democrats, Republicans,Independents--I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More todo for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing theirunion jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now arehaving to compete with their own children for jobs that pay sevenbucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who was losing his joband choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month forthe drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on.More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands morelike her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn'thave the money to go to college.
Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities,in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve alltheir problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and theywant to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people willtell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency orthe Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tellyou that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know thatparents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raisetheir expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate theslander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No,people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But theysense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, wecan make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life,and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we cando better. And they want that choice [...]
A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child onthe south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even ifit's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't payfor her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent,that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there'san Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of anattorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's thatfundamental belief--I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters'keeper--that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursueour individual dreams, yet still come together as a single Americanfamily. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.
Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us,the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics ofanything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberalAmerica and a conservative America--there's the United States ofAmerica. There's not a black America and white America and LatinoAmerica and Asian America; there's the United States of America. Thepundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and BlueStates; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. ButI've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the BlueStates, and we don't like federal agents poking around our librariesin the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and havegay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the warin Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of uspledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending theUnited States of America [...]
In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of thisnation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there arebetter days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief andprovide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we canprovide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim youngpeople in cities across America from violence and despair. I believethat as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the rightchoices, and meet the challenges that face us. America