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 »

…further explanation from what i gather– received a few questions and seen more than a few raised eyebrows when the category presents itself.  this is not a blog about dudes gathering in a circle and jerking one another off.  i am sure connoisseurs of such activities can find what they’re looking for elsewhere on this world wide net of ours but this blog ain’t it.  “circle jerk” is utilized purely as an analogy.

the analogy is this: the way i see it, most discussions in the left/ liberal blogosphere  are akin to circle jerks.  it is as simple as that.

or the blabbers of teenage girls.  which, at the end of the day, is yet another circle jerk.

ashley, amy and meg are hanging out in meg’s room one tuesday after school.  they’re braiding each other’s hair, shuffling through the pages of meg’s mom’s cosmopolitan, painting smiley faces on their toenails, pumping justin bieber on the boombox and having this fine conversation:

-oh my god, isn’t justin so hot…

-oh…..my….god, he really is..  reminds me of josh johnson.  he is soo hot..

-oh my god, josh is like such a dork..

-no he so is not.  he is hot.  don’t be a bitch.

-he is alright i guess but he is not josh campbell.  oh my god, josh campbell, i would soo jump him. like right now.

-oh my god, you know josh is taking ashley johnson to the prom?

-no, the cheerleader?

-um, no, josh johnson’s sister ashley.  you know, like with all that henna..

-oh my god, she is such a slut.

-guys, have you like seen the thong she was wearing today.

-oh my god, that was soo lame.

-oh my god, you won’t believe this: i was sitting right behind pete strickland in ms. klein’s class.  pete was like staring at her thong for like 10 hours..

-eww, he is so gross..  but, um, what you think about the cashmere sweater ms. klein had on today?  it was like tight..

-i mean, bitch, you’re like large or at least like medium.  hide those boobs, gross..

continues like this with giggles, ewws, grosses, and oh my gods sprinkled carelessly for good measure until all are satiated and can go home and stomach their gross parents..  that, my friends, is a circle jerk…

now, for the sake of the argument, let’s change ashley, amy and meg into stefan, richard and helen:

stefan is an african history professor, a self proclaimed atheist and a card carrying trotskyist vegetarian; richard does outreach coordination for a civil liberties organization, is an extremely secular reform jew and a meditating locavore, he and his partner sam are founders of their neighborhood co-op;    helen is a research associate at a non-profit dedicated to latinos struggling with HIV, volunteers as a rehabilitative art teacher at an at-risk urban youth center, practices yoga and pilates, is known to wear a sari daily because she once dated an indian post-grad, is a practicing buddhist and a non-compromising vegan.   needless to say, all three have graduate degrees from prestigious institutions.   religious, political, etc affiliations were tweaked a little to protect the identities of the inspirations for stefan, richard and helen…

they’re in stefan’s virtual room.  he just posted a link to an article on, say, the teaparty from the nation on his blog or facebook wall.   here is how the essence of the conversation, without the polysyllable words and articulate language, would go:

-oh my god, did you read what palin said?

-oh my god, i can’t believe the words coming out of that woman’s mouth!

-gosh, she is such a ditz..

-they, like, act like they’re there for the people but, i mean, they’re all about themselves?

-check.  i don’t get it– um, like all the disenfranchised masses, i mean they believe in them, right?  despite their best interests?

-no shit.  all double standards.

-oh my god– like all those homophobic evangelist leaders getting caught with gay escorts, tweaking in hotel rooms.  i mean, like, what about them?

-eww, that’s gross…

-i’ll tell you who is not gross: julian


-hell, yeah! he is hot.  i mean, wikileaks…

-yeah, but, that hair?

-too warhol for me…

… continues like this with tons of sardonic chuckles, ewws, “change”, “disenfranchised”, “chavez”, “neo-con”, “palin” and oh my gods sprinkled carelessly for good measure until all are satiated and can go out and stomach their gross capitalist regime..

compare this with bunch of nekkid boys circled around jerking each other off until they can all walk out of the locker room all satiated– i implore you, where is the difference?  liberal blogging and commenting, my friends, is a circle jerk…

i consider myself fairly liberal.  though i consider belonging to one and only one camp to be fatally stupid.  there is sense and wisdom, albeit occasional, on the other side too…  i wouldn’t deny, and would rather adopt those anomalies, instead of shrugging them off because i labeled myself a “liberal”.  that would be stupid.

where we fail, as liberals, is this circle jerk: instead of learning to communicate with the “masses” and getting our point across strongly, we preach to each other until each one of us creams their pants.  we think that, because we’re more “articulate” with larger lexicons, we’re making the strongest points and impact and people would be fools not to be convinced by our polemic.  that is bullshit– the way to get our message across is not through preaching to the choir.  it is through going to the lowest denominator and breaking it down the way he or she would understand.

that is what the other side is doing and that is why they’re getting stronger by the second.  yeah, it may not be noble or it may sound unethical but that is the ground rule of this fight.  it is a dirty fight… and wasting time, jerking each other off, will get us no where..

…times just reported the virgin of wisconsin in a brilliantly captioned article: “Wisconsin on the Map to Pray With Mary” (caps are theirs, ain’t mine)….  “wisconsin on the map to pray with mary”?  times, really?

turns out it is another catholic roadside attraction.  vatican builds and validates ’em as often as broke countries print money…

with the currency of catholicism at an all time low, thanks to child molestation scandals, a shady, shady pope, technology and science it cannot keep up with- and no longer can deny, and a western hemisphere population getting smarter and better educated, therefore less believing by the second, vatican of course turned to the third world, especially africa and south america, where the population is still desperate, and unfortunately not educated enough to believe unconditionally and unquestionably…

the vatican, in addition to the third-world, also turned to the good old US of A– interestingly, ours is the only developed country in the world where the number of believers and the strength of religion is increasing.   it is not mind boggling at all– actually it makes perfect sense: religions’ breeding grounds are pain, suffering, desperation, isolation and depression.   no one turns to JC or any other super hero because of their happiness– they turn to them because of their misery.

of course the good ole US of A is a wonderful breeding ground for any religious virus– with our collective discontent, depression, meaningless & isolated lives, most americans hit the bible as often as they hit their prozac bottles, trying to make sense of it all.  pity, actually…

read the article– about the shrine, the hovering blonde, surrounded in light, above the trees, pilgrimages and group prayers, the love offerings and self-sacrifice: reads no different than pagan rituals.  of course there is no human sacrifice, etc, but is there much difference?  what makes nigerian voodoo priests boiling and eating severed penises for strength any different?  or sticking pins in a doll instead of lighting candles and building shrines?  or casting spells instead of reciting 25 hail mary’s..  the only difference is one is legitimate and widespread, hence accepted, the other is an exception and a rarity, hence shunned as occult.  if you look at its essence, it is the same shit…

if you read, in the times, about a sect in papua new guinea who is worshipping a tree and sacrificing animals for it, you would shrug them off as a cult of indigents who doesn’t know any better.  or as pagans.  or as whatever.  but what is the difference between them and hordes of catholics pilgrimaging up to wisconsin with the hopes of seeing a blonde circled in light hovering over a tree?

speaking about mary- actually kudos to the catholic church for recruiting and milking her like a hacked credit card.  they were eons away from the madison avenue and apple company in reaching a female demographic.  like apple making technology sexy and appealing for female consumers, catholic church made religion appealing to female consumers with mary.  long before the terms demographics and target audience entered our lexicon.

protestants tried (and still try) with a sexy and loving JC.  but mary– that was the mastercard’s priceless campaign for the middle ages.  all women can relate to mary.  all women would want to build shrines to mary.  instead of some dude.

granted, it was not an original idea of the catholic church– ancient religions had hera.  when gods became male, they had to recruit female audiences with strong female models– hence the mother goddess, kybele, sibelius, whatever you may call her, became the wife of zeus.  an old targeted marketing trick from way back.  but the catholics took it to a whole different level by pushing mary.  what can i say, congratulations…

december 25– happy birthday mithras! mithras, also known as mithra, was a pagan god, born on december 25th, to save the world from evil.  his teachings were based in duality– competing forces of good and evil.  the chess game of god and devil.  heaven and hell.  his was a “virgin birth”, he offered salvation through him to his followers and his day of celebration and worship was sunday.  sounds familiar?

because his was a hugely influential religion, when christianity was being written/ created, many of the mithraic traditions were appropriated and mithras’ name was changed into jesus of nazereth.  same guy, same myth, different name…  so happy birthday mithras– at least you’re the more ancient, hence senior, myth/ legend…

at the end of the day it is all myths, legends, and assorted bullshit…  but, it tickles me to follow the evolution of traditions and here is the tradition behind christmas folks.  of course there is a huge body of writing against this but that is only natural:  now we’re venturing into the circle jerk territory by iterating the obvious truth but it is absolutely necessary: only believers are, by their very definition, insecure in their beliefs.  the more diehard they’re in their beliefs, the more insecure they’ll be.  if you are not obsessed by a “belief”, you can discuss it rationally and revise or thrash it as necessary.  however, if you’re obsessed with a belief, like any “true believer”, then every word, may it be fact or opinion, is a threat to your belief and must be defended against rigorously, without any rhyme or reason.  that is what happened to mihtras and that is how the story behind this myth and his importance was marginalized and bastardized.

of course, the funny thing is, it was just a myth, just like JC, mosey moses, noah & his boys, the talking snake and the sparerib which begat eve…  but, when you build your entire life and justify your entire existence on a 1800 year old myth, which, any child can tear to pieces intellectually, of course any other competing myth, or any myth that may have begat your myth, is a serious threat and must be attacked viciously.

anyhow, all i wanted to say was “happy birthday mithras!”– december 25th and this silly tradition of christmas and worshipping on sundays and eternal salvation was your shtick but it was appropriated from you.   i would have said “sorry”, but, actually, i don’t give a flying fuck– it is the same tired story of salvation with different names and slightly different legends.  sorry mr. l. cohen but “let us compare mythologies” ain’t any different than let’s compare the size of our dicks…  same organ, same function, different colors and shapes– just like mythologies/ religions– same core beliefs, same function, different myths and rituals– that’s all…

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