Entries Posted in "October 2004"

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Funny Moments
October 30, 2004

There are no words to say when you walk into a conference room and hear the following spoken at the tail-end of a conversation:

"We're just having a really hard time finding a black Santa."
Unless of course you're Ambra, who always has something to say, and had to resist the urge to interject, "Trust me, he doesn't exist."

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 10 }
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Friday's Missive: Books that changed your life
October 29, 2004

Okay I know I've had a tendency in the past to come down hard on the "classics", Dickens especially. I hope it comes across that I do appreciate books (even bad ones) and their impact on my life. When I categorize all the books I've read in my lifetime, I generally put them into three categories:

1) Really Good
2) Really Bad
3) Life-changing

Some of the life-changing books I've read haven't necessarily been the best books per se. For whatever reason, at the time I read some, no matter how poorly written, they were just what I needed. Then there are others that completely altered my thinking or worldview. Others enraged me. There are even books that changed my life that I vehemently disagreed with.

Aside from the Bible, which of course is off-the-charts by way of life-changing capabilities, I'm curious to know what other books had life-altering influence on your life? I'll start with just a few of mine:

  • Osa's Pride by Ann Grifalconi
  • Passion & Purity by Elisabeth Elliot
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • A Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer
  • Oedepus Rex by Sophocles
  • More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
  • The Jewish Phenomenon by Steven Silbiger
  • The Mis-Education of the Negro: Carter G. Woodson

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 51 }
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Eminem the Patriot

Today I was going to write about the recent release of "Grand Theft Auto San Andreas", the video game laced with the stereotypes and propaganda that encourages the type of negative and self-destructive behavior we eventually pay for with our tax dollars. Then I realized we have our own version of "Grand Theft Auto" taking place in politics as is. I am referring to the media hubbub surrounding Eminem's (Marshall Mathers's) recent anti-Bush video.

I just got finished watching the music video, which is called "Mosh"(as in pit), and I'm completely uninspired. Released strategically this week, the video is essentially an angry hate message regarding the current state of America and a final "let's oust Bush plea" not void of the typical "everything's bad, bring the troops home, Bush lied" predictable stuff that's been common to this campaign. Eminem even managed to slip in one last comment of "Disarm this weapon of mass destruction we call the president" and end the video with the words "Vote November 2nd" on the screen. He forgot of course to mention, "I myself can't vote because I have a felony conviction." Still, Eminem asserts:

"They tell us ‘no’, we say ‘yeah,’ they tell us ‘stop’, we say ‘go’ / Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell, we gonna let him know / Stomp, push, shove, mush, f*** Bush / Until they bring our troops home / Come on"
Gotta love that Black Panther spirit in him right?

I watched the video with an open mind, really I did. I even watched it twice. I tried to extract whatever "deepness" and "profundity" everyone else seems to be getting out of it. I mean, after all, the reviews I've seen of the video read as such:

"... the most powerful broadside against the administration since "Fahrenheit 9/11."

"Makes Fahrenheit 9/11 look like a GOP campaign spot..."

"Wow...this is the best thing that I've seen all year."

"The video they don't want you to see"

With all that hype, you'd think you were about to view something so wrapped up in profound insight that it'd make you want to go start a revolution. Well, that is of course Eminem's goal, but instead, it just made me want to take a sleeping pill, go to bed, and wake up on November 3rd. The "deepness"? It wasn't there. Mr. Mathers's somewhat feeble attempts to get across a supposedly potent message were just the typical rantings of our resident angry and bitter badboy and all the other Bush haters. The UK Guardian reports:
"The video was first aired on MTV on Wednesday and immediately went to the top of the channel's "hot video" charts.

In it, the rapper leads a crowd of hooded people, including a mother with an eviction notice and a soldier given orders to return to Iraq, in a march to storm a government building. Once inside, the mob remove their hoods and stand in an orderly queue to vote.

Eminem, now wearing a smart suit and red tie, declaims in a style reminiscent of Martin Luther King:

"In these closing statements, if they should argue, let us beg to differ, as we set aside our differences, and assemble our own army, to disarm this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president, for the present."

Sound familiar? It does to me. The goal is a simple one: empower the masses to vote to oust Bush.
Even my favorite sold-out Democrat blogger Oliver Willis prefaced his comments on the video with
"It seems to be going in one direction, then pivots in the right way towards the end."
Yeah that "one direction" it was going was the typical unproductive whining that is common to Eminem. The "pivoting the right way" simply means that he's telling people to vote. How incredibly unpredictable with less than a week until the election. Deep? I think not. Calculated? You better believe it.

As you can imagine, the hip-hop community is going crazy over this one. The video is being pumped up on MTV's TRL and online. Eminem has long been viewed as the "outspoken rapper" who'll say "what needs to be said" (and some). Oh he says a lot all right. If there's one thing Eminem's not short on, it's words. Four letter ones too. Hateful ones too. Vapid ones too. With his past attacks on gays, women, his wife, his mother (come to think of it, who hasn't Eminem had issues with?) we should take everything he says with a grain of salt. The boy is a walking ball of anger who likely has more issues from his childhood than he does with the Bush administration.

The video lacks substance and just plays into the emotions and other pre-fabricated drivel my generation has been told about this election. Unfortunately, coherency of thought, and a decent argument are not pre-requisites for whether or not people will take heed to his words. And interesting words they are. Eminem is just a yapper with a lot of influence. If you were to corner him in a room, chances are, he couldn't defend his own arguments with any knowledge beyond emotion.

Thankfully, even some of Eminem's fans are reailizing this. Alternet reports:

Nineteen-year-old Kelley from Apple Valley, MN has a different take: "I am completely appalled by Eminem's 'Mosh' video. He may have his own opinions about our president, but there should be no reason that he has to come out with this Bush-bashing video a week before the election. I am a huge Eminem fan, but this is extremely upsetting. I am also afraid that people will watch this video and be corrupted by what he is portraying, and that is a false image of President Bush."
But what do I think? I think the Right didn't play the hip-hop vote correctly. They should've accounted for this. People are going to drink the sand on this. Eminem's the only one doing the talking and the lemmings will blindly follow. I have heard but a peep and seen minimal effort on the part of Conservatives to reach out to the hip-hop community. I find it hard to believe that Conservatives couldn't find even one inroad. Well I say it's going to cost them. Will it cost Bush the election? No. Not this time. I do believe failure to be more effective in their approach to gaining support from this generation is going to be evident in the polls. Make no mistake about it, the hip-hop generation isn't voting for Bush.

People want leadership and understanding. If Eminem qualifies, then clearly we have low standards. And regardless of how low our standards may be, or what the pseudo hip-hop leaders may be saying, people will be listening, and they'll be voting too. Yep. "Grand theft" for sure.

Update (10/29):
- Michele at "A Small Victory" lays some Eminem Smackdown
- Then again, as Cobb eloquently notes, Bush just may have the hip-hop vote. Heh.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 28 }
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Gah! There is an abundance of good/interesting/disturbing stuff going on right now. My one-person staff can't keep up. Or it could be that I'm too lazy to do so. So instead I offer links:

The Democrats' Plea to the Black Community
I'm not a huge Ann Coulter fan. Don't know why, I'm just not. But she careens the nail on the head in her latest column "40 excuses and a mule", which discusses among other things, the Democrats push for the black vote and their lack of much to offer to back up their claim as "messiah".

More on Eminem the Bush Hater
Brian Crouch has a good post up on the Eminem/Bush Hate controversy as well as a recap of Michael Medved's commentary.

(Update 10/29) Michele at a Small Victory also has some harsh words for the cult of Eminem.

Pulpit Pimpin' Backfires
Remember Allen Temple, the church where the pastor endorsed John Edwards and they handed out what I dubbed the "Kerry/Edwards 'Hope is on the Way' Memorial Church Pew Fans?" Well they got busted. The IRS is on the case. Nate Livingston at "Cincinnati Black Blog" has more info.

(Update 10/29) Michael King covers the recent move by the IRS to rexamine the NAACP's tax-exempt status. 'Cause we all know how nonpartisan they are, right? Right.

Freak Dancing a Constitutional Right?
Joanne Jacobs covers a story on students claiming they have a right to "bump and grind" at their high school homecoming. For the civilized, that's "freak dancing"; for the even more civilized, that's "really nasty dancing". To make it even more plain, think "dry sex on the dance floor". Oh you better believe I'll have more to say on this. Maybe next week.

'Sexy Chic'
Have I mentioned how much I love the Evangelical Outpost lately? Well I do. Joe *drops way too much science to be running that show all by his lonesome. If only I could graze the hem of his garment. See his post "Young Miss Pimp: Pop Music and Female Teen Promiscuity". Excellent stuff. I got something to say 'bout that too.

More on Bumpin' & Grindin'
Check out Hans Zeiger's take on "freak dancing" too.

So much good stuff, so little time...

*Dropping science: "to educate, to enlighten"

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 5 }
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The Urban Dictionary: Bill Clinton
October 28, 2004

I get quite a bit of traffic from UrbanDictionary.com. It seems they've quoted me on something good I said about their site. It was an "Ambra & Ebert" moment I guess. It still remains, one of my favorite online hang-outs. It's a completely user-submitted dictionary of slang, idiomatic expressions, cultural icons and redefinitions of words. I personally find it rather intelligent (save some foul language) and it's also a good pulse on the mind of the "younger" generation.

Recently, I happened upon the dictionary's entry for Bill Clinton. Well actually, make that 69 entries. It seems people have quite a few definitions for Mr. Billy. To be honest, I was rather shocked at the consciousness that I found in the in the majority of the entries. Here are a few:

(Entry #1)
Bill Clinton: 1. To inherit a good economy when taking office while passing a recession off while leaving office
2. To create sperm stains.
3. To smoke but not inhale
4. To not remember yesterday as president under oath, yet when term is over, the ability to write memoirs on your life.
5. To lie under oath

(Entry #4)
Bill Clinton: Immoral president, not the first black president despite popular belief (All of you guys that are saying that he's the first black president, is because you saw a stand up comedian say it, and the joke wasn't funny at all).

See: Liar.

(Entry #8)
Bill Clinton: The fall of Western civilization.

(Entry #16)
Bill Clinton: Bad Guy. Horrible President.

(Entry #21)
Bill Clinton: plain and simple the reason for 9/11

And who said my generation wasn't paying attention?

Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry
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In My World

Just returned from a yearly employment law seminar I attend. Events such as this always quietly reassure me that I made the right decision not to attend law school. Quite frankly, I just don't love the law enough to put up with it on a consistent basis. And I mean some of these lawyer people LOOVVVE the law. And we're not just talking some fileo type touchy, feely love. We're talking some straight up AGAPE type unconditional love affairs going on in the chambers of the halls of justice. They slobber and drool over the excitement of Constitutional Amendments, case law and mock depositions.

Most of my life I thought I wanted to be an attorney. Secretly I didn't, but since most people have a tendency to peg outspoken and flippant black little girls as litigators, I kind of bought into the concept. It was during my freshman year in college when the revelation of my apathy towards studying the law hit me hard.

I had a college government professor who you would have literally thought was high on exstasy at the simple mention of legal jargon. When the whole 2000 election, Katherine Harris, voting fiasco went down, the man didn't sleep for an entire week because he was glued to CSPAN, CNN, and LMNOPQ, enthralled by the impending opportunity to test our judicial process.

Right then I realized, it was never that serious to me. A lawyer I was not.

But back to my lovely legal seminar that I enjoyed oh so much. I of course, being the kinetic learner that I am, drew on my hotel-provided notepad during much of the seminar (see my doodle). Trust me, doing this helps me to pay attention. All you other kinetic learners know what I mean.

Throughout the droning about the Family Medical Leave Act, there was one interesting point during the seminar when one of the lawyers likened an employee posting Biblical references against homosexuality in his cubicle to Aryan Nation propaganda. Yes folks, this is what we are waging war against. Don't tell me philosophy hasn't seeped into the crevices of all that we do. Just a subtle reminder to me that we can't stand to be flaky on this issue. Do you hear that Mr. President? No flakiness allowed.

  1. My lovely BCBG heels to make me look taller: $79
  2. A fancy catered breakfast: $0
  3. Parking: $10
  4. Being reminded of the fact that I shouldn't have been a lawyer: Priceless
There are some things in life that money can't buy, for everything else, there's Mastercard, unless you're generation broke.

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 6 }
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Bush & Gay Marriage

I'm not even sure what to make of Bush's most recent interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" where he spoke out in favor of civil unions, The San Francisco Examiner reports:

"Some conservative groups expressed dismay Tuesday over President Bush's tolerance of state-sanctioned civil unions between gay people -- laws that would grant same-sex partners most or all the rights available to married couples.

"I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so," Bush said in an interview aired Tuesday on ABC. Bush acknowledged that his position put him at odds with the Republican platform, which opposes civil unions."

How embarrassing. Is he now mirroring Kerry's stance? This was only one of the many things I took fault with in the President's interview. This election should be one for the books. My only prayer is that it goes down peacefully (only in a dreamworld).

Oh and Andrew Sullivan endorsed John Kerry as the "right choice for Conservatives"? How predictable. Yeah, sorry to say, but I called his bluff a few months ago. This stuff is so tired...

Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry | Comments { 28 }
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Wristbands and the Multi-Million Dollar Cancer Fundraising Industry

In America, Cancer fundraising is king. At least once a month in some way or another I am hit up on the job for cash in order to support some Cancer cause including prevention, treatment, and finding a cure for a disease that seems to be taking out someone I know at least twice a year. I trust that the Susan G. Komen foundation along with the Cancer Care Alliance can be counted among the two to bring in the most revenue.

Am I the only one who raises both eyebrows to this new rise in capitalizing on peoples' losses and pain via fundraising to "cure" a disease? And especially when the word "cure" is really up for discussion as a good part of me is inclined to think that with the cash flow this cause is bringing in, the arrival at a cure isn't exactly the goal anymore. I mean really, curing cancer although ideal isn't exactly in the best interest of those whose livelihood is based on the actual "research process".

My intention here is not to be insensitive about what I see is a great need, but merely to put the very thing we often glaze over because of the exterior of "good" under a necessary microscope.

Perhaps I take this reserved perspective because I live in Seattle, Washington, cancer research capitol of the world and home of the renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where everyone seeking out the latest and greatest in cancer therapy and discoveries comes to visit. In eight grade, one of my classmates was the daughter of famed astronomer (and evolutionist) Carl Sagan who temporarily re-located to Seattle for the sole purpose of getting treatment. "Fred Hutch" as we affectionately call it, pulls in big donors from around the world. They are perhaps the wealthiest nonprofit in existence in the Pacific Northwest. You should see their benefit galas, all the old (and new) money from around the town comes out in their best after five attire and parties the night away at the finest hotels for $250 a plate.

Awhile back, I took some flak short of being called "heretical" when I suggested I was skeptical of the latest fundraising trend by way of the Lance Armstrong Foundation: the yellow wristband. Well, here we are almost three months later, and the press is beginning to confirm some of my suspicions (although indirectly).

It was recently announced that approximately $20 million has been raised via the yellow bracelets thus far and with a significant amount on back order, the organization has no plans of slowing up anytime soon. The Houston Chronicle reported that the latest trend in fundraising has charities copying the bracelet, hoping for similar success:

"Charities and causes of all stripes are rushing to cash in on the popularity of the Lance Armstrong Foundation's yellow wristband.

A rainbow of wristbands are now being sold to promote awareness of everything from breast cancer to high medical malpractice premiums for doctors.

The trendy silicone rubber bracelet produced by the cycling superstar's cancer-fighting organization is imprinted with the motto "Live Strong." This week, the foundation will announce that it has sold 20 million wristbands at $1 each, the Austin American-Statesman reported today.

Proceeds go toward programs for young people with cancer."

That is 77% of the proceeds. The remaining goes to "overhead". Seventy-seven cents on every dollar are promised to go to "research". Because of the nature of and sensitivity surrounding such a cause, the regulation of funds received for "research" is not generally brought under suspicion.

Still, with the rise in the wristband's popularity, the opportunists have come out. Since the bracelets are in such high demand (month-long back order) The Detroit News reported on the rising trend in eBay price-mongering:

"...the yellow rubber wristband with the words “Live Strong” has become the fashion statement of the times.

Unfortunately, this hot new trend also has become the folly of some opportunists on eBay, who can’t resist a two-bit profit on an otherwise humanitarian effort....thanks to some heartless people, the yellow bands are now reselling on eBay for upward of $20 and the sellers are pocketing the profit.

“We are extremely disappointed that eBay has refused to take these auctions down,” Michelle Milford, a spokeswoman for the foundation, told me.

Milford says the foundation receives an average of 200,000 orders in a single day. The nonprofit’s warehouse can only produce 600,000 a week.

For those that may not know, Nike gave $1 million in seed money to kick off the Armstrong Foundation's campaign. A few discerning ones have been wise to note that the yellow wristband trend is extremely clever marketing on the part of Nike who partnered with the foundation to mass produce the bracelets. Undoubtedly, the funds raked in as a result of other Live Strong merchandise sold (e.g. shorts and t-shirts) far outweigh the current $20 million raised thus far in the campaign. And as far as I know, those funds aren't being donated to cancer research.

This isn't a knock against those who choose to support the cancer cause by purchasing or wearing this bracelet. I in fact probably have one somewhere in my disorganized junk drawer. If anything, my raised eyebrows exist simply because I see an area of permissibility in America that often goes unquestioned. Americans will generally give to any cause that seems "good" because for the most part, we all need to appease our consciences and make up for the lack of charity we show the rest of the year. Still, I feel more inclined to seek out other ways to help this cause. There's too much room for my dollars to end up in the wrong hands.

Are we headed in the right direction towards finding a cure? Draw your own conclusions.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 13 }
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Know Your Rebels: Princella Smith
October 27, 2004

I've been searching for a way to highlight the under 25-year-olds of my generation that you should be afraid of. So I introduce yet another ongoing feature inspired by Joe at the Evangelical Outpost, called "Know Your Rebels".

Rebel: Princella Smith

Why you should fear her: The daughter of a minister and a teacher, she even won the attention of MTV viewers and was chosen as the youngest black woman to deliver a speech to delegates at this year's Republican National Convention. Princella is willing to go against the grain of this generation by being unapologetically Christian and Conservative. Plus she's six feet tall. Plus her name is Princella; that's an action-figure name.

Age: 21

Representing: Wayne, Arkansas

Status: Junior History and Political Science major at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas

Achievements: beat out 100,000 other contestants to become the winner of MTV's "Stand Up and Holla Essay Contest" sponsored by the GOP Convention and MTV was a featured youth speaker at this year's Republican National Convention. Chairman of district 4 for the Arkansas College Republicans, youngest member of African-Americans for Bush, member of the Lady Tiger Basketball Team, Senior Class President, 2001 Governors of Girl State and honors graduate from Wynne High School.

She recently finished an unpaid internship for U.S. Rep. John Boozman, R-Ark., and her other political volunteer work includes service for Gov. Mike Huckabee and Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller. She plans on attending law school.

Speeches: Generation X-ample

Interviews: YM Magazine, OBU News, Southern Baptist Church Press, Boston, The Early Show, MTV, Washington Times.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 4 }
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Now THAT'LL Preach

You'll notice that's a phrase I use often in my writing. I do so in real life as well. Since I use it so often, I figured I better offer the meaning of one of my most favorite phrases. The origin of "That'll preach" I am unsure of. It's just something I've always said.

It is among other things, an affirmation or form of co-signing similar to "Amen", "That's Right", "Right On", or "Preach on". The only difference is the phrase "Now that will preach" has a bit more depth. It's like saying "Now that's deep" or "There's a lot more that can be said there" or "I could take that topic and run" or "Just give me my soapbox and let me at it".

The suggestion when I use that phrase is that a topic, subject, or idea has been brought to the table that in and of itself is preach-worthy meaning its ponticatable qualities are a 10 on the scale.

Thus ends my Nyktionary lesson for the day. Try it in a sentence sometime.

(P.S. Unrelated, but if anyone can find a solo picture of what I've now dubbed "The Kerry/Edwards Memorial 'Hope is on the Way' Church Pew Fan", I'd be more than grateful)

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 5 }
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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