Archives for the month of: January, 2011

…not a big angle in the american media?  it is really curious..  the leaks came out about a week ago, with bits and pieces before hand.  now the entire country is burning.  it is a good ole “civil war” and interestingly it is labeled “protests”…  it is a term of art like the “insurgents”…  the truth is the wikileaks releases were the fuel that transformed the little flame, which could have blown away itself, to a raging forest fire..  the telegraph recently published an article about the nexus and it makes perfect sense.  it is said how we’re not even considering that angle and blaming mubarak and his boys for everything, not even trying to justify our meddling which led to the cauldron boiling over…  sad but typical..

…the memphis sound mr. bobby blue bland turned 81 today with a big birthday bash/ show scheduled at the bb king’s NYC for tonight…  screw al green and his ilk– mr. brown, you’re the real deal and the last man standing of the memphis sound.  here is mr. brown covering one of the great blues traditionals– happy birthday sir!

ok, here it goes– yale law professor answering to the name amy chua published a book titled “battle hymn of the tiger mother” where she apparently goes on and on about what she calls the “chinese mother model of raising kids”– which equates to something in between the tough “love” of british boarding schools and true and tested amish parenting skills.  her hubby, jeb rubenfeld, another overachieving yale law professor rewrotethe alienist“– it is disguised in careful research with lots of period detail, but it is “the alienist” all over again.  as if we needed another one…

seems that the hubby-wife team are in a publishing pissing contest: he got some commercial success with his rewritten alienist and its sequel and now she ups it a few notches with her tell-all.  the book, any smart yale professor will tell you, is written as a provocation, chuck full of controversy.   especially in this day and age where the bookstores are overpopulated with “how to be a great parent” junk– it is the new porn for parents…

until about 50 years ago babies came without owner’s manuals.  then the famous doctor came in and he was the only man in town for a few decades.  nowadays the owner’s manual is about 800 volumes, all contradicting each other, but nearly all preaching some sort of neo-new age soft-touch and nurturing blabberings, preaching everything from crazy feeding tricks to mom and offspring yoga classes…  the kids are the crazed scientist labs, the cheap chemistry sets of parents…

well, ms. chua definitely knows what will be controversial and, accordingly, what will sell…  everyone is talking about her and trying to explain her “madness” or “genius”, calling her from anything from a sociopath to a maverick…  but, all i can call her is an opportunist. just like her husband before her, but in a drastically different way– her husband saw an opportunity in copying and selling something true and tested.  she, on the other hand, in kicking the hornet’s nest and selling through controversy.  it is easy to see who in the rubenfeld-chua household is smarter and a better opportunist– she will outsell the hubby off the ballpark…  and, interestingly enough, the hubby’s sequel to his version of the alienist started selling like hotcakes after ms. chua’s book came out and all the controversy broke loose.  i’m sure 2011 will be  good year for the chua-rubenfeld household and their CPAs…

needless to say i did not read the book.  and i never will.  which, of course, will not prevent me from criticizing it.  it is the way of this blog, so deal with it…  but i read enough reviews, discussions and comments– from downright vulgar to outright enamoured…

the big discussion is of course hinging on the empirical data– the chinese (and most asian) kids outperforming their western, especially american counterparts..  which is a fact.  of course everyone is trying to explain it with parenting skills.. which may be a contributing factor but is only the tip of the iceberg.  like almost everything else, the reason is pure economics.  children, and parents, who do not have a guaranteed safe future tend to work harder for that elusive safety.  but knowing you have your future is lined up and you have fiscal security makes you look up to yoga for toddlers instead of math and sciences..

american kids don’t want to be engineers or scientists or even business folk (well, the business thing is not that true– with all the quick millionaires and billionaires around them, from start-up whiz kids to the masters of the universe in wall street, that avenue is still coveted)…  they want to write the next great american novel or shoot the new sundance sensation.  and, having disposable income, their generation X parents are giving them a free reign.  the baby boomers were a different breed of parents– they knew hard times and the value of economic security so they guided their offspring, the generation X, to achieve in conventional and more realistic ways.  now the generation X can afford to live their long quashed dreams vicariously through their offspring, their new chemistry sets..

having worked at and with universities the last decade or so, i observed this phenomenon first hand many times over: american universities are full of whining generation Y babies, seeking their first degrees in the arts, or, if they are a little bit more resolute, filling up the MFA programs, which are popping up each and every university as the new revenue generator.  on the other hand, the science and engineering departments are full of asian and former soviet bloc students.  one group is studying to secure their future, the other is following their oft misguided dreams– statistically, there cannot be this many “creatives” floating around.  there, this explains the main difference between the “tiger moms” and their american counterparts– one is of necessity, the other of luxury..

if the only future you can promise your children is the future they will establish themselves and if you’re relying on them for your future, trust me, you’ll push them to the redline…  of course this is only true when you know the limitations of your time, surroundings and personal abilities: if you’re a clueless breeder yourself, then this statement will not hold true.  it holds true for those parents who, despite trying their best, was limited by their time, culture, glass ceilings, nationality, etc.

on the other hand, if you have already established a decent future for your and your offspring, then you can afford the luxury of letting them “find their ways”.  of course there are exceptions in either group.  i know many well to do families pushing their kids hard and vice versa.  my family would fit more into the first group than the latter but they never pushed me or my siblings to what they thought was best.  they let us find ourselves.  however, because we did not have the golden parachutes the latter group have, we did not become kids of leisure

when it comes to ethnic/ national differences, i think the real comparison should be between western european and american parents– chinese v. american is apples and oranges.  european kids are also outperforming american kids despite relative economic equality.  a grad student should do a survey dissertation on the sales of parenting books on different amazon countries.  i have neither the the patience or the inclination to conduct such a research but i can bet my bottom dollar that this would give a good explanation.  american parents have a long history of delegating their parenting responsibilities to others– from parenting gurus to television, nintendo, kiddie prozac and adderall.  european parents still keep the responsibility to themselves…

i bet you recent immigrant families, especially second generation and up from asia and former soviet bloc, will accumulate more comparative wealth and have their offspring in more and more positions of power, innovation and technical success.  however, the offspring of the said offspring will be a different story and will give their american counterparts of today a run for their money in being teenagers of leisure; to their great detriment of course…  i would like to see how ms. chua’s daughters’ offspring will be raised.  now that is the real question…

one thing the above new yorker article alluded to is the overblown self-confidence of american kids–  funny, the last few months were full of articles about university freshmen dealing with depression and cracking under pressure– of course the talking heads try to explain everything with difficulties and not enough care but i tell you– the reason is overconfidence.  pump up the kids with all the neo new age crap and push them to their pipe-dreams, this is what you’ll get.  generation Y is a loss- let’s chalk it that way.  i call them “kids of leisure”.  now a majority of american kids can afford to live like the good ole trust fund brats of the south.  the kids of leisure will be the downfall of the traditional american upper middle class.

their offspring have a chance of redemption and saving this country, if their to-be parents survive their whining lives and reproduce that is.  their offspring will have to rebuild this country and will have only merited self-confidence.  reminds me of the dylan lyrics:

They’re spoonfeeding Casanova

To get him to feel more assured

Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence

After poisoning him with words…

generation Y, welcome to your new “desolation row”…


….we salute you!  you with your cryptic notebook, shedding light to the secrets of the universe and the physics of our doggone society, with your leather lenin cap, smart glasses, logger shirt, camo pants and snakebite boots, you’re the king of the subway, tompkins square park benches (weather permitting), and the surrounding east village coffee shops, wearing your mystique like a charm, holding court to knowingly smiling and more than willing pseudo artist hipster girls…  i salute you the david foster wallace of the R train– now finish your to-do list and get the fuck out of my sight…

…memphians are at it again– this time we have my boy bruce tuck– a convicted serial rapist.  now, rape is no laughing matter.  however, his appeal is one for the ages.  that glorified tabloid commercial appeal reports:

“Tuck, a former Memphian who has pending rape charges here, claimed his lawyer did not properly represent him and that jailers there kept him on a lettuce diet until he agreed to confess in exchange for potato chips and a soft drink.” [emphasis added]

apparently my boy tuck signed away his freedom for a bag of ruffles and a can of coke.  claims that the jailers put him in an involuntary fat camp.  this story is a real jewel, read it.  i would love to see what will happen in the following appeal.  while you’re at it, check his mugshot as well:

he really has that “my freedom for a bag of ruffles” look, doesn’t he?  oh, also, the last twist is my boy tuck was a former jailer himself…  so he should know about west tennessee jailers and their fat camp methods…

…for showing a new way to completely fuck up the environment!  job well done, congratulations are in order…  genius, actually: screw the already delicate balance of the environment by ravaging the last meaningful ecosystem we have left, the oceans.  package it like a novel and noble idea that will make even a half-assed capitalist drool and picture it with a nice, none-threatening female diver frolicking in the deep blue ocean, and open the floodgates of environmental hell.  congratulations!



shit like this happens only in memphis– according to the commercial appeal, which is nothing but a glorified tabloid itself, my man ernest d. porter, 44, of memphis, tn was caught with fabric softener in his pants.  according to the commercial appeal:

“Police charged Porter with theft and criminal trespass after he was accused of attempting to leave a Kroger store on Lamar with $18 worth of Ultra Downy fabric softener in his pants. He was held in jail on $100 bond.”

$18 worth of ultra downy fabric softener in his pants?  now that is a party!

…when the customer service agent you call greets you with “good morning, this is mr. anderson, how can i assist you?”…  if you hear “mr. anderson” or  “ms. hendrix”, or “mrs. maple” or “senor gomez”, trust me and just say:

– um, sorry, wrong number; or

– oh, yeah, is this the paraplegic male escorts dot com customer service? oh, sorry, i don’t know why they connected me to you?; or

– i thought ya’ll was gonna send me that spitzer chick. this babe sure ain’t. possibly a paula jones but no dice..  what’s wrong with ya’ll?; or

– who is this? is this deion?  is this fucking deion?  tell that muthafa to stop fucking my baby sister.  you hear me?  she is only 12 goddamit…; or,

– oh, mrs. richardson, you won’t believe what a day i had!  first i had to have emergency appendectomy on a southwest airlines flight from toledo to fort worth.  can you believe they did not have a doctor on board?  they only had a senior rabbi who witnessed one too many mohelim brissing away and graciously offered his services.  a rabbi is not necessarily a mohel though, is he mrs. richardson?  and an appendectomy is hardly a bris.  well, on top of it, the only sharp object they had was the boxcutter this nice arabic fella had on him but the rabbi was not sure if it was kosher for the surgery.  he had to call his rabbi friend in brooklyn from the plane’s phone…  and on and on until mrs. richardson hangs up…; or, if you’re too civilized for any of this, simply respond:

– oh, no, you cannot assist me, and hang up…

trust me, you’ll be better off– if a customer service agent, whose job is to serve you, starts with an “i’m mr. nixon”, you know you have an overinflated ego and probably nothing to back that ego up.  that person is doing the wrong job, he should be working for the DMV or the IRS, not the frigging internet customer service.   when you need customer support, especially of complex nature, you want someone who has no tolerance for bullshit and cuts to the chase, not someone who needs to be called a “mister” or a “misses”..

you’re more than likely to run into such forces of nature when you dial in public utilities or quasi public utilities like your phone company or internet service provider.  private companies don’t put up with that BS.  they will have carefully written scripts preventing such mishaps.  but occasionally you run into a “mrs. richardson” or “mr. thompson” and you know that he or she will neither understand your situation, offer any meaningful solutions, or have the patience to deal with you.  you know you will not get customer service but lots of attitude.  so, you’re better off, much, much better off by simply hanging up…

last time i had to deal with a mr. richardson was in september– i called verizon DSL service because when i canceled my landline and only kept the DSL service, they messed up my account.  now when i log on to my verizon account, i see the correct account number for the DSL service, the correct amount due and the correct address, bank account, etc.  but when i make a payment, that payment goes to my “closed account”.  they refund that 3-4 months later.  in the interim, my DSL service gets disconnected every few months because of this.  i am yet to find someone in the verizon chain of command who can fix this problem.  makes you wonder, eh?

well, when my service got disconnected in september because of the same reason, i picked up the blower and dialed their number again.  i was transferred from agent to agent.  some were “mr” or “mrs”, others were simply “charlie” or “sally”…  the charlies and sallies were helpful and transferred me to where they thought i should be, whereas the former group usually put me on hold and hanged up on me.  finally a “charlie” transferred me to a “mr. richardson”– a supervisor at their customer finance department.  i explained the situation to mr. richardson in the simplest terms i can.  but i knew my attempts were futile and i could easily see his eyes glazing over when i was explaining the complication as simple as i can.  the conversation, afterwards, went something like this:

– so, i made a payment but the backend of your system transferred it to a closed account, can you rectify that?

– no.  why did you make a payment to a closed account?

– i did not– your system routed that way.

– but did you enter your correct account information?

– yes, i did.  and it is still here, on my account log-in page.  and it is showing a payment made.  but your system is routing it to the closed account.  can you look the closed account up?  i really need my service up.

– uh, no, we don’t have access to the closed accounts.  if you want your service up, you need to go to our website and make a payment.  your account is suspended for nonpayment.

– have you been listening to me?  i made a payment.  it went to the closed account.

– i don’t see a payment here, posted on your account.

– can you not look up the closed account?

– i don’t have access.

– who has access?

– the finance department.

– aren’t you the finance deparment?

– yes, but to look up closed accounts and payment disputes you need to fax us a payment confirmation letter from your bank with a personal statement explaining what happened.  do you want the fax number?

– how long will that take?

– 3-5 business days.

– are you kidding me?  i need my service today!

– your service was canceled because of non-payment.  you need to log on to your verizon account and make a payment.

– is this a joke?  i’m telling you that’s precisely the problem.  if i make another payment, it will get re-routed to the closed account again.  can you not take a payment over the phone?

– i can’t.  i’m not authorized to do so.  i can transfer you to our automated payment line.  there will be a convenience fee though.

– how do i know the payment i make on the automated line will not go to the closed account?

– you have a closed account with us?  huh!  hold on, i’m transferring you to the automated payment line.  thanks for calling verizon and have a great day!

– stop!!!…

and the muzak begins…  eventually i got to a “charlie” who took the payment on the phone without a fee and restored the service.  then i started waiting for the “reimbursement” check from verizon and my service to be disconnected again.  it happened yesterday.  but, this time, instead of explaining myself to mr. richardson, mrs. anderson, and all the other nobility, i used the lines above and hung up.  finally i got me a “charlie” and the problem was solved.  from now on i’ll simply mail them a check via snail mail and that should take care of that.

…is on the subway…  screw the overcrowded and overpriced clubs, bars and restaurants.  every poser is out there, elbowing up to the bar, forcing himself/ herself to have fun.  and there is really no fun out there.  fun in NYC is a good thursday night off the beaten path, not in new year’s eve.  unless you spend the night roaming around in the subway– that’s where the fun is..

of course if you have a week stomach or a weaker constitution this is not for you.  however, if you can stomach it, the new year’s eve drama of the subways is next to none.  the drunks, from puking frat boys to the homeless the said frat boys are feeding booze to and encouraging to dance and sing; from the drunk girls with tits hanging out and heels in hand, craving attention from their bonked out dates to the mexican busboys mesmerized by the said tits and daydreaming after a 14 hour shift; from the ranting hipsters whining about how commercialized new year’s eve is, clad in their ironic tuxedos, accentuated with their grizzly adams beards and amelie wannabe performance artist girlfriends who have no talent whatsoever to back their aspirations up save their overinflated egos (or their overinflated lack of self-worth, which, at the end of the day, has the same boisterous effect), to drag queens subwaying it out to the next episode, it is the real party…

new year’s resolution 2011– spend the next new year’s eve on the subway and subway alone… Read the rest of this entry »

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