Entries Posted in "August 2004"

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The LanceBand Trend
August 31, 2004

A reader emailed me once and said that Lance Armstrong was a virtual God in her hometown city of Austin, Texas. I must preface this by saying I'm not hatin' on Lance and all his celebrity splendor. I can't even knock the fact that he overcame huge setbacks healthwise to be this crazy strong, insane rock of multiple Tour-de-France-winning flesh. It's a shame his marriage suffered, but I'll keep my mouth off of that.

I've lost many family members and friends to cancer so don't tell me I'm being insensitive when I say I CAN'T STAND THE LANCE ARMSTRONG FOUNDATION YELLOW WRISTBAND and if I see one more I may be tempted to rip it off the wearer's wrist. My it feels good to have a place to vent these pent up feelings (advertisement: get a blog, it feels good).

I've written before about my lack of appreciation for certain organizations I call "Tools of the 21st Century". I included the American Cancer Society (one of the most wealthy organizations) as one of them. I don't trust organizations who set out to find cures to diseases and illness. If you ask me, it's a recipe for shady disaster. That would make our dear buff bicyclist's effort also known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation no different. In an effort to raise funds for various cancer efforts, one can purchase the widely popular "Lance Band" for only $1. In fact, the bands are so popular, they're currently on back order.

Now here's where I think fundraising gets scary. These things have become an all-out fashion trend! How do I know? Well aside from the fact that I saw a racoon wearing one yesterday, I have this person in my life who thinks he's way cooler than me and stands about one entire foot taller than I that introduced me to the latest wrist rave in the school hallway. He's my 16-year-old brother, and he knows what he's talking about. Ambra's sad observation: you know you're getting old when your younger brother is letting you in on the trends. I've officially lost my prowess.

Maybe I'm not being sensible, and yes I'm all for finding a cure for cancer and helping better the lives of those suffering with it. I am however, sometimes prone to be suspicious that we've found secretly found a cure already, and if we haven't, although I'm not a gambler, I'd be willing to wager my brother's latest pair of hot sneakers (or tennis shoes for you civilized types) that the cure isn't in all this fancy shmancy technology, but rather in plantlife on the untapped Earth.

Down with trendy fundraising!

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 8 }
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Cringe-Worthy: The Bush Trinity

I lied I watched the circus. By way of Hurricaine Frances, torrential rain and severe flooding in Virginia (as in even the squirrels have life preservers and rowboats) left me housebound Monday evening and I was left to tune into none other than the Republican National Convention. A quick parenthetical: My reasons for avoiding both Democratic & Republican National conventions have nothing to do with politics, but are purely due to my gnat-sized attention-span.

Amidst moans of displeasure from a fellow Democrat family member, I caught a bit of commentary tossed between some anchor whose name I've forgotten, Richard Norton Smith (Presidential Historian), David Brooks (New York Times), some nondescript woman academic and a few other terribly decrepit-looking white men with unmatching ties and toupees, who (coincidentally) could double for South Park cartoon characters. Ambra's commentary: The Republican National Convention needs a stylist on staff. Badly.

Over the course of their commentary on the convention thus far, one of the decrepit South Park characters in particular started referring to presidents George Bush Sr. and Jr. as "Bush - The Father" and "Bush - The Son". Part of me was waiting for him to indentify the third member of the Bush trinity as "Bush - The Holy Spirit".

I pleaded with him through the television screen to please stop doing this, but he aggressively continued. Old decrepit anchorpersonman, if you're reading this, don't ever do that again. Bad choice of terminology if you ask me.

Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry
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The Case for Why I'm Not a Member of a Political Party: Exhibit C
August 30, 2004

I really did expect more from the Republicans, but alas, just like the Democrats, they too have gone off the political party affliation deep-end. Straight from the Republican National Convention:

No measure of affliation is worth sacrificing my dignity in public. But try telling that to Green Bay Packers fans. What nuts they are!
Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry
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I know it ain't an Oscar, an Emmy, or even better, a Bloggie, but I'll take an accolade any time.

JollyBlogger had some >really nice things to say about my unfinished four-part series on "Why I'm Not a Republican", and has given me the Jolly Award for the week (don't you just love it when people make up awards to stroke the ego?) Anyway, I'm still appreciative, so pay JollyBlogger a visit and tell him I sent you.

I guess this means I've got to get off my tush and finish this 4-part joint.

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry
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Today I'm blogging from the extremely historical (and Confederate) Richmond, Virginia. I caught Bill Clinton on C-SPAN today, strategically pontificating at the interfaith Riverside Church in Harlem.

Politicians in churches = Personal gag-reflex

There's been a bit of publicity about the Clintons' less than gracious welcome of the Republican National Convention to the New York Area. Well "Duh". First off, the Clintons' are carpetbaggers and thus not truly in a position to welcome anyone to much of anything let alone Harlem.

I wish there was more I could say of this pathetic attempt at book sales and furtherance of his bastard mantle of "The First Black President", but I had to change the channel because I was dry-heaving when our dearly washed-up ex-president started QUOTING SCRIPTURE (it must be tough to find a good publicist these days).

First, Clinton alluded to the Swift Boat Veteran controversy by accusing Republicans of observing only nine of the ten commandments but leaving out "thou shalt not bear false witness".

Are you kidding me? Bill Clinton, Mr. "I did not commit sexual relations with that wo-man" and "it depends on what the definition of 'is' is" is lecturing other people on the virtues of truth-telling (granted not all Republicans are the most honest folks in the lot, but at least they try -- some of them). If what we saw was a truly repentant Clinton and not a miserable sap then maybe, just maybe he could pull of that doozy. But today was not that day. Clinton's last words before I flipped the switch?

"I'm certain a Liberal Jesus wouldn't have anything to say about two homosexual men coming together in marriage"
I don't know about you, but I'm not taking Bible lessons from Bill Clinton. No way, no how.

(Article Username: Latimes1 Password: Latimes2)

Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry
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The Philosophical Conservative

I am a young, black woman. My political and social values are rooted in a Judeo-Christian ethic that's been long established before we had petty political affliatory labels.

I'm steadfast on a number of hot issues a few of them being abortion, gay marriage, stem-cell research, and lop-sided sex education. I'm pro-family, pro-education, and pro-personal responsibility.

While I don't believe morality can be legislated, I believe licenciousness and lawlessness can.

I can always argue the practical side of an issue, but when the rubber meets the road, my sole accountability on any number of issues is to God and Him alone.

Based on those few personal attributes, our society deems me "conservative". In this day and blameful age however, believing that a person should pay back their own self-inflicted parking ticket is grounds for being labeled "fiscally conservative". Understand, that "conservative" is a label I'm more than proud to wear (despite the many Capitol Hill fools who've given it a bad reputation). I've even been told on occasion that I dress conservatively and I take that as a compliment as well. So there should be no doubt that I "embrace" my conservative label in all its fullness and wonderful glory.

All of that said, I have my days when I think I am tired of being a "conservative". If being a conservative means that all I do is have a form answer for abortion, affirmative-action, abstinence education, illegal immigration, and homosexual marriage, then count me out. As my friend says, Ambra isn't about drinking the "Conservative Kool-Aid". This is about using your brain. If I wanted to regurgitate the GOP agenda (no matter how poorly eloquent), I certainly wouldn't need my brain to do so. Thankfully, the GOP has constituents who know how to do both.

When it comes down to it, I think I am more of a "Philosophical Conservative" than I am an "Ideological Conservative". I have zero interest in debating issues that the two opposing parties have already plainly sided on. Sure I have an opinion, but really it's not anything anyone hasn't already heard regurgitated in some way, shape, or form. It might be lightly battered in youthfulness, with a tinge of hip-hop and a side of sarcasm, but it's the same, old, tired arguments conservatives have been making for years. I can however, point people in the direction of some very wise and succinct conservative smarty-pants who write all the time about the stuff most people want to read about.

What I am interested in is how conservative thought plays into our daily lives. What does it look like in the home? What does it look like in education? In music? On the campus?

I am of the persuasion that a conservative worldview is far more important than conservative policy. The average Joe really could really care less about whether Matt and Steve should have the right to fake marriage or how balanced the budget is. But if Joe can see how philosophy can enhance his family life, he just might take a listen.

Thus far, I have found that what I just stated bothers people more than the fact that I don't call myself a Republican. I'm not into all these titles and whatnot. Once people hear certain things, they think they have you pegged and if there's one thing that will never happen to me, it's pegging. Try me and I will resist you like a fish out of water.

Conservatism is a direction, not a destination. I'm on my way, but I don't think anyone's arrived. So please, let's stop acting like we have.

Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry
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Bug Me Not
August 29, 2004

I think La Shawn Barber hipped me to this, but in case you didn't know, I thought I'd just let all you news buffs who can't stand giving your personal information over to the blood sucking theives on the internet who have "registration required" news services know that there is a service called BugMeNot.com which supplies dummy logins for every newspaper you can imagine. Check it out.

(I link sites every now and then that require registration, in which case, I'll supply the dummy login...cuz I'm baaaad like that)

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry
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Bandwith Debacle Part II
August 28, 2004

My site was shut down most of the day on Saturday to my EXTREME and UTTER chagrin. This has happened before, and I promised myself it would never happen again but dag nabit it did. Considering my control-freak tendancies, this bugs me to no end. I suppose it's a good thing when your site gets a lot of hits, but trust me, no one will ever convince me of that. Anyway, apologies for the downtime. I've been traveling and thus approximately three to four days behind on responding to emails and comments so apologies to those who've emailed or dropped some serious science in the comments section, I shall be with you shortly ;-)

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry
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What's in a Name?
August 27, 2004

Having survived some awful business travel to a few cities in New Jersey, the worst of all being "Teaneck" (whose most exciting venue is a Shop-Rite grocery store), I am proud to report that today I am blogging from the beautiful "keystone state", Pennsylvania. For the first time this week, I slept longer than 3 hours and let me just say it feels mighty good. Now if I could just name my gosh darn column, I might have some peace of mind.

What is in a name? Apparently, a lot. I've labored over the name of my very first column for almost a week now. I know it's not that big of a deal, but to me it is. Anything with my name attached to it better come correct.

I so appreciate the lengths to which many of you have gone to think up something clever and creative. If only I had 20 columns with which to name them!

Some of the suggestions were utterly fascinating. Others, left me scratching my head (in a good way I suppose). I even had someone go so far as to design me a logo. Which leaves me thoroughly convinced that I have one of the best lots of folks reading nykola.com. You people are lovely really. And in true stereotypical fashion, I give you the cookie cutter speech of how everyone's a winner and it was a diffucult decision and I could only pick one and all that jazz. There were some 50+ suggestions made via comments and email!

I decided early on that I wasn't comfortable with my name included anywhere in the title (besides byline). The reality is, you pretty much have to be ALL THAT to pull that off without sounding a tad arrogant (which I'm not so I shy away from stuff that gives off that aroma). Unfortunately, that ruled out Nykolsworth and Ambra Alert (both great suggestions).

Then there's the whole right-winged elephant thing that I'd prefer to stay away from because it pigeon-holes me, and well, you know how I am. That ruled out: You Know I'm Right, Kickin' it Right, Just Say It Right, Talkin' Right, Left Out.

There's also the whole "I know something you don't" vibe that I'd prefer not to exude. That ruled out: Left Out, Pardon My Hellfire, Truth Be Told, The Flow, The Column, The Fallen Intellectual

So with that, the finalists up are: Consider This and Politickin'. Now, help me choose.

(FYI, "to politick" is a real word Merriam-Webster style, it is also a slang word that takes it a few steps futher. Kinda double-entendreish).

I make my decision Saturday.

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 2 }
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Conservative Homework-Pushers

I'm a big proponent of year-round schooling and this is why.

With most students around the country heading back to school this week or next, gripes are already surfacing about assigned summer homework. And get this, the parents are complaining too! The AP reports,

Summer homework has increasingly become a popular tool used by teachers to bridge the gap between the end of one school year and the start of another. But some parents worry that the workload is making summer fun slip away.

"I don't know what good this really does," said Sheryl Preiss, a Baltimore, Maryland, mother parent of twin 13-year-old girls entering high school this year. "Life isn't always about a test. I think it's important for children to be children, to be well-rounded.

When I was in sixth grade, I recall reading Tolkein's The Hobbit in one day. It was the day before we had to return from summer vacation, and it was the lone book we were assigned over the summer. I of course, being the procrastinator-perfectionist that I am, waited until the very last day to read it. I hated summer assignments. The summer was for vacations, swimming, and stealing from the ice cream man. In my mind, summer vacation was purely established to be the polar opposite of everything that took place from September-June. There was to be absolutely NO thinking during the summer. None whatsoever.

For me, school meant life in the homework inferno. Private schools have absolutely no mercy when it comes to piling it on. By the time I got to high school, I easily had five hours worth of homework every night. There was almost never a time when we came from under the burden of repetitive assignments. I still have gripes about the intensity of private school workload, but for what it's worth, it gave me a great work ethic and the summer was indeed a welcomed break.

Unfortunately, these days the worse lot of public schools don't give nearly enough homework if you ask me. I know many parents who actually supplement their children's workload with additional materials just to fill in some of the holes the educational system leaves.

The summer is a prime opportunity to go brain-dead. As I got older, I started realizing how much I forgot over the summer. In math classes for example, we generally spent the first two months strictly re-learning everything we'd flushed away via our summer lack of scholastic aptitude.

As with all things, it seems conservatives are to blame for the summer homework craze,

Some education experts say the "lazy, hazy, crazy" days of summer are over as schools feel increased pressure on accountability for student achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"It's really going to focus attention on this period of time when kids aren't engaged," said Ron Fairchild, executive director of the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University.

But parents from Prince George's County in Maryland to Salt Lake City, Utah, are fighting back, questioning the usefulness and legality of teachers piling on summer reading and math problems.

The legality of piling on homework? Now we've officially gone off the deep-end. In the article, they also interview Director of Teacher Education at Pepperdine University, Etta Kalovec, author of The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts families, Overburdens Children and Limits Learning. Her main argument being that homework puts poor children at a disadvantage. I am trying very hard to wrap my mind amount this logic. Granted, yes I believe our educational structure could stand some reform and yes I think that in many cases the homework load can be a bit much and pull children away from more important family time, and yes kids without the traditional family structure in place can suffer a bit with bringing work home, but to say that it puts poor children at a disadvantage? That's a bit advantageous.

Posted by Ambra in Education, Politics | Link to This Entry
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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
Gonorrhea and the City

I Have a Talk Show