Entries Posted in "November 2004"

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College Curriculum Gone Wild
November 19, 2004

In what appears to be the relentlessly fraudulent pursuit of relevancy (or whatever), many of our institutions of higher learning have abandoned the curriculum of yore and burdened themselves with the rebellious idea that anything can be turned into a learning experience.

I recall during my first and last year at Wesleyan University, the gates of the inferno manifested in our college curriculum. In that year, a class simply called "Pornography" sought to make some investigative headway into the industry, its literature, and its culture. And surprisingly enough, kids paid $36,000 a year in tuition to do so. I am certain picking up a video rental membership would've spared them a buck or two. The course, which caused a bit of outrage among endowment funding alumni, included elements of video, fiction, and photography. And like all things academic, they even had guest lecturers: porn stars. A Hartford Courant article reported:

"Porn stars now work the college lecture circuit. Performance artist Annie Sprinkle, who packed a Wesleyan auditorium Sunday, extolled the value of prostitution and told students, 'The answer to bad porn is not no porn, but to try to make better porn.'"
It's no wonder our college degrees are failing us with such repugnant refuse being espoused as intelligent. The culmination of the course was a final assignment whereby students were instructed by Professor Hope Weissman to "Just create your own pornography". My beloved school would've been better off just calling the class "Hedonism 101".

I began with this story because in more recent events, Syracuse University has decided to throw its hat in the ring of the battle between reason and stupidity. As much as it pains me to admit it, I think stupidity might be winning.

When you think of rapper Lil' Kim, you don't think of the word "class" (in either meaning of the noun). But according to CNN, Syracuse recently introducted a course titled, "Hip-Hop Eshu: Queen B**** 101 -- The Life and Times of Lil' Kim". According to instructor Greg Thomas, the course seeks "to look into things that gender studies have been trying to grapple with" and requires students to read Kim's song lyrics as literary texts and analyze her iconography in videos and performances. Move over Maya Angelou, there's a new poet in town. Kim has even made a guest appearance to speak to the class about her music. A better working title for this course would be "The New Misogyny: how women hate themselves".

Those familiar to Lil' Kim know she is famous among many for her self-deprecating, sex-laced, raunchy and explicit lyrics. Image wise, she is a self-proclaimed female dog and has mastered the art of wearing as few clothes as possible. It should also be noted that Lil' Kim has given Michael Jackson a run for his money in the area of plastic surgery. If getting deep is worth anything in this analysis, it should be observed that all evidence points to the fact that this is clearly a woman who doesn't love herself enough if at all.

You may well remember awhile ago when a summer school program in Worcester, Massachusetts unwisely added Tupac Shakur's book of poetry to their required reading list. What I wrote in response to this and the topic of hip-hop in education still stands. The way I see it, the question here isn't whether or not aspects of hip-hop culture are worthy of academic dissection. The answer to that question is an emphatic "yes", without reservation. Not only is it no less worthy than every other artform, it would be intellectually dishonest to suggest contrarily as historically, every dominant aspect of culture has been well-surved by overpaid Ph.D students in search of a dissertation topic.

What is troubling is which cross sections of hip-hop culture "the powers that be" have decided to study. There are intelligent and conscious lyricists in rap, yet we want to intellectually dissect the refuse and play pseudo-deep like shaking your behind on the television has all that many layers of profundity. There's nothing profound about glorifying gang activity and filthy lifestyles. For all that has come out of hip-hop, surely there is more to offer than someone as grotesque and confused as Lil' Kim. The same could be said of Sigmund Freud, if you ask me. If foul language and sexually derogatory content wasn't allowed in college curriculum, half the English department would be in a tizzy.

There is a bigger picture at stake here. Can we afford to glorify such behavior in light of an ailing culture? What is the legacy we're trying to leave? Cultivating critical thinking is great, but not at the cost of passively endorsing detrimental behavior. There needs to be a standard on this thing we call "learning".

Other news on Syracuse's course
- SU Student calls class inappropriate
- The Base-Standard reports on Lil' Kim's Campus Visit

Posted by Ambra in Education | Link to This Entry | Comments { 9 }
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the Double-Minded Haters
November 18, 2004

There are many unwritten rules in politics. With the exception of Hillary Clinton, most political figures have been subjected to the undercurrent of dos and don'ts that rule our nation's politics. One of such rules states that if you are black and you are conservative, you are a target for racial slander. This rule also states that if such epithets and bigotry come from the Left, they don't qualify as racist. Indeed, the Left-Wing Conspiracy of America has made it widely known that they are not in favor of people of color that refuse to bow down to the John F. Kennedy altar. So when President Bush appointed National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State, it was no surprise that the mental midgets with two-celled brains would crawl from under their rocks to display some typical double-minded bigotry.

It was only a few months ago when Dr. Rice was offensively caricatured in cartoons by both Jeff Danzinger, who sketched Rice as a semi-literate mammy, and Ted Rall, whose illustration referred to Rice as Bush's "House Nigga". Generally such occurrences create enough of a stir that the comics get pulled and the cartoonist still gets their fifteen minutes of fame. But the fact that these high-fallutin' trolls think themselves arbiters of black authenticity is somewhat of an anomaly considering their perpetual claims that the Right is the Ku Klux Klan. When syndicated cartoonist Jeff Danzinger's portrayal of Rice with big lips and bucked teeth rubbed readers the wrong way, he released a statement in which he exercised true Liberal Apologetics by denying the cartoon as racist, claiming it "was suggested to me by a friend who is African-American". Yes, he pulled out the "I have black friends" rhetoric. Perhaps someone should tell him that defense is so 40 years ago.

Since Rice's new position was announced, the hypocrites have had their field day in a number of different racially directed comics. There is nothing new under sun. It is however interesting that we never see the extortionist Jesse Jackson or any of the other black solidarity saviors of the Left stepping in and correcting such blatant stereotypical depictions of their race. And where pray tell, is the NAACP now? Perhaps you may recall a few years ago when a Toyota ad featured their new Rav-4 SUV etched into the gold tooth of black man. Their attempts to be stereotypically edgy outraged Rainbow/PUSH's leader. About.com reports:

"Jackson's organization initially threatened to boycott and picket the Toyota company saying that, because the ads appeared in places that were frequented by mostly whites, the purpose appeared to be solely to amuse whites."
It can certainly be deduced that the offensive cartoons are intended to amuse whites and many others. But apparently, Jackson can't get any money from this deal because he's nowhere to be found. A likely story.

To be black and deviate (or even question) our blood-line democrat values is masochistic. As if it's not enough to have white yuppies (with black friends) calling you a sell-out, the black on black contempt has taken a turn for the worse. Hateration is the name of this game. And while credentialed media quotes from major news papers could be more convincing, I believe these words from fellow black blogger resonate more with the pulse on our society's twisted conceptions on the meaning of freedom:

"If you are even remotely black and you voted for Bush, you are a nigger. No greater coon ever existed than the Black Republican. You shucking and jiving, shoe-shining, pink pucker licking, delusional [expletive]. May you slowly drown in a sea of piss, rubbing alcohol, watermelon seeds, and chicken gristle."
And that folks, is what we're up against.

(Update I): I wasn't going to give this the time of day, but in light of the topic, I thought I'd link Joan Baez's post-election minstrel show (which by the way was completely excused by Liberals).

(Update II): Other bloggers weigh-in. Moxie's analysis, "Does Condi Want a Cracker?" is hilarious. See also, Michael King, La Shawn Barber, Mickey Malkin, and Conservative Dialysis.

Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry | Comments { 24 }
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Every time I hear the word "tradition", I can't help but start humming the underscore to Tevye's solo in "Fiddler on the Roof". And while my referencing a hokey musical clearly pins me as ultra-nerd/hipster/theater-buff/snob, I'm okay with that.

Despite my nerdom, there are elements to the opening song in "Fiddler on the Roof" (or the general concepts in traditional Jewish culture) that I can draw truth from to remind me of the necessity to align certain aspects of my life (and ultimately, our society) with some traditionalist ideals.

In response to my post on respecting authority, a commenter by the name of Glen, made some very keen observations:

"Alas and alack, much of our current contempt for authority can be traced to the permissive parents of the 60s, 70s, 80s, whatever, who encouraged their children to "stand up for themselves" no matter what. You know the type I refer to.

The very idea of "children's rights" flies in the face of a proper civilized society, as it puts respect for authority on a back burner. Yes, there are and were many abuses by adult figures, but institutional authority must be established and respected for a society to function.

If I had even THOUGHT about calling any of my parents' colleagues by their first names, I would have been banished to the dungeon. Now, there is no problem with kids calling daddy's friend "Joe" instead of "Mr. Smith".

Now that'll preach.

As rebellious as I can be, I'm a traditionalist at heart. One of my peeves among peeves is the disrespect of elders and authority figures. I think it's putrid and disdainful and we will reap what we've sown if we don't watch our mouths.

The family structure is severely fragmented and its disarray is at the heart of what I believe to be Americans' issues with authority. We can't expect people to view the government any differently than what they've experienced in their own families.

With all the role swapping going on in America these days, it's no wonder people have little respect for positions and titles. After all, what's a father anyway? And that's not to say that traditional family roles can't been adapted as our culture has evolved. But if we are going to be honest with ourselves, we must admit that we've allowed many fundamental principles to fall by the wayside.

Kids are calling their teachers cutsie nicknames and their parents "Joe" and "Suzanne". Sixteen year olds are being emancipated or excuse me, "divorced" from their parents. It's nightmarish.

The era of new-agey progressivism has infected our society with individualism and disregard. Commenter Glen brought up the idea of "children's rights" as being something of a stepping stone to the current lack of reverence for authority that is abundant in everything we do. I'm only 23, but when I was growing up, my parents always made it clear that as children, we had no rights. Sure we had the rights God gave us, but trust me when I say that was it. It sounds harsh, but it was a reality check for us.

I recall one time when I was around 11-years-old, I decided to buck up against the system and "run away". That was the first sign that I'd been at my white private school one day too long. Black kids don't do the whole running away bit. We knew better. (Caveat: All that stomping up the steps, slamming doors and running away from home crap is so cheesy-Full-House-sitcom-trite. If I ever slammed a door in my parents' house, they would remove it off the hinges on my behalf so they could watch me sleep) So when I made my declaration to abandon ship to my mother, she calmly replied,

"That's fine with me, but don't take anything you didn't buy".
Stuck I was, as there wasn't one flippin' thing in my possession that I truly owned. I laid my pride down and shut my mouth.

I caution us, if we continue to push the envelope by trying to pull the entire rug from under the traditional values coalition, we will not see a society that respects authority. As far as I'm concerned, there are direct correlations between the household and what we're after.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 8 }
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Polls Schmolls

Whatever*. I predicted this was going to happen. Newsweek reported last Friday:

...the exit polls didn’t tell the whole story. According to a new analysis of voter data, turnout among the under-30 set shot up 9 percent from 2000. The study, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Center for Information & Research on Civil Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), found that at least 20.9 million in the 18-29-year-old bracket voted, compared with only about 16 million in 2000. The exit polls didn’t register the increase because they show the percentage of young voters out of all voters. Since every age bracket voted in higher numbers than in 2000, the exit polls showed about equal youth shares of total voters for 2004 and 2000—not an accurate picture of the youth vote, experts say.
* Relative defintion of "Whatever": Quick, somebody give me a salary and title so I can get paid for my predictions.

Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry | Comments { 2 }
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Know Your Rebels: Sheri Valera

Rebel: Sheri Valera

Age: 21

Why you should fear her: Not only was Sheri the youngest Florida delegate to the RNC, she was a 2nd place runner up in MTV's essay contest and has the accolades and positions that would lead to a life in politics. Sheri is also a powerhouse activist and firm Christian that has taken a hard stance against premarital sex and abortion amidst a notoriously subversive campus life. Countering even the "South Park Republican culture", Sheri's taken flack for her advocacy of purity in relationships and is saving her first kiss for her wedding day. Classy.

Representing: Port Charlotte, FL

Status: Senior Political Science Major at the University of Florida

Headed: A governmental office.

Achievements: Youngest Congressional Delegate for Florida to the 2004 Republican National Convention; Chair of the Florida College Republicans. Ronald Reagan Future Leaders Scholarship Recipient; Weekly Editorial Columnist for the Florida Independent Alligator; Second place finalist in the Stand-up and holla Essay Contest; Member of Christ Community and Riverbend Community Churches; a memberof Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society.

Interviews: New York Metro Magazine

Past rebels: Princella Smith

Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry | Comments { 7 }
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November 17, 2004

If you've emailed me over the last two weeks and I haven't yet responded, it's not because I'm ignoring you. It's not because my inbox is teeming. It's not even because my apartment looks like my closet threw up. It's because I suck. And I'm sorry (yep, I'm sorry too). Stand by, I'm getting to it.

On another note. There is a battle of epic proportions taking place between me and comment spam or comment spam and I or whatever is grammatically correct. As a result, I'm going to start closing comments a week after a post is up to stop the ads for levitra, cialis, poker, and penis enlargement pills from attempting to take over my site. They shant take me down. This fight I will win and I will do it with high heels on. And again I say to you dear brethern, know that in these perilous times, there are little people doing big things. And we shall join hand in hand as commrades in the faith and overthrow the ruling spamming class.

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 5 }
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Busy day today, but here's a quick round-up of things I'd talk about if I had the time. In recognition of the "National Month of Sorrow", I'd like to preface a few of the links with a heartfelt apology. I'm really really sorry. In other news, the answer to my "quiz" was h. "none of the above". And since my question was "which of the following did not happen", that makes "none of the above" a double negative and thus the true answer is that all the events I listed took place. Ooh yeah, I'm clever. On with the links:

  • A 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich bearing the image of the "Virgin Mary" recently sold on eBay for $16,000. I'll reserve my comments on this lunacy.

  • PETA has now begun a full-out assault on fish. Brace yourselves for this. It's called the "Fish Empathy Project". Stop please. Just stop. PETA's argument is that fish are intelligent and no more deserving of being eaten than other pets like dogs and cats. Okay, enough with "Shark Tale" and "Finding Nemo" movies. Fish aren't friends, they're food. Booker Rising isn't happy either.

  • At the recent second-annual Vibe Awards (a hip hop awards ceremony) a brawl broke out when a man punched Dr. Dre in the face as he was waiting to receive his lifetime achievement award. In the chaos, a man was stabbed. Tell me again that gangsta rap doesn't promote violence? This is downright shameful.

  • In other trite news, Democrats are displaying their racist agenda. Notice the cartoon's depiction of Condoleeza Rice with bucked teeth. The "Democracy-Project" has a full round of links on the racist backlash and tired portrayal of black Conservatives post-cabinet re-configuration.

  • It gets worse. Democrat Oliver Willis shares the following "wisdom",
    "One of the dumbest arguments being bandied about is that the left should welcome Rice/Gonzales because one happens to be black, while the other is hispanic. I wonder if they know that their supporters are so in favor of such tokenism?"
    This is coming from the same people who already have Obama 2008 campaign bumper stickers.

  • Joanne Jacobs reports on a Philadelphia public school initiative that would establish partnerships between every public school and a church, synagogue, mosque, or religious groups to help with after-school programs and tutoring. The initiative called the "Philadelphia Public Schools: A Community of Faith Partnership" is said to be honoring of the ACLU's definition of the separation of church and state. I think initiatives like these are the right way to go.

    Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 1 }
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    The World is Filled with Pimps and Hos
    November 16, 2004

    Apparently, even the "Kiwis" are sorry. Although that's more my judgment on them than their emotional sentiment. Herein lies utter lunacy:

    STUDENTS at a New Zealand secondary school have listed prostitution and drug dealing on a list of desirable careers.

    The job list, which also includes stripping and pimping, appeared in the year book at Kawerau College in the central North Island.

    The book featured students' hopes about what they would like to do when they leave school and included suggestions such as brothel worker, drug lord, dope dealer, dope packer, stripper, pimp, beneficiary, druggie and "living on the street".

    The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards, said Saturday that the legalizing of prostitution in New Zealand earlier this year had created a climate in which students viewed prostitution, pimping and stripping as attractive and viable forms of legal work.

    The glorification of the lifestyle of pimpin' and ho'in' is beyond disgusting. By the way, did you know that BET is banned in the Bahamas because they don't believe it's a proper or healthy representation of black people? Lovin' it, lovin' it, lovin' it.

    Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 14 }
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    Sorry Everybody

    America is a peculiar place. As a country, we are usually atypical in our way of doing things. And I'll be the first to admit that many of those "things" are quite wonderful. Our "open marketplace of freedom" has long been the chip on our shoulder of cultural superiority. There is a reason why we are called "the land of opportunity". There is also a reason why people from other nations risk their lives to get here. Notwithstanding this reality, in all our "fabulousness" and "freedom", we have an uncanny propensity to exploit our liberties.

    I am recently beset by what seems to be the extreme absence of the proper reverence and respect for the man we call our president. Our capacity to respect the office of the president isn't based on the countenance of one human being. If my ability to show respect for authority was based on amicability, I would surely be in jail right now, hauled off by some police officer I gave a piece of my mind. For if perfection was the rod against which we measured our Commander and Chief, we would surely be without a qualified leader for the task. What we must respect is the power and burden of the presidential mantle on behalf of an entire nation. It is not to be taken lightly, spoken of flippantly, or disregarded, no matter who is in office.

    Freedom is a most beautiful thing. In fact, it is so beautiful that we as Americans often romanticize the idea of "freedom" to the point of extreme avoidance of (or un-consciousness from) the reality of what it really means to live in a free society. The "freedom" veil we live under is one that leads us to believe that America is a place where most anyone can presumptuously "do" whatever they choose and still get away with it. And unfortunately, these perceptions often ring true. Yet there is an unsettling haze of rebelliousness that has clouded the way we regard those authorities who have "charge" or "watch" over us. We have co-opted "freedom" as our right to be reckless. Today, that recklessness manifests itself in all matter of speech and hatred against a person who is inevitably our leader for the next four years.

    On election day, writer James Lileks illustrated a profound truth when he recounted a teachable moment he had with his 4-year-old daughter post-voting:

    "If John Kerry wins he won't be our president," Gnat said.

    Ah, a teachable moment. No, honey. He will be our president. He will be the new president, and we will respect him.

    "What does respek mean?"

    Man, that is a good question. It means we treat him like a teacher or the pastor or a doctor. Someone we should listen to when they talk and someone who is important to everyone. Because he's the president, and we have to respect the job of president.

    And here we have a simplistic sketch of something America lacks. It's one of our fundamental weaknesses: we don't respect authority. The illustration is no Rembrandt, but the concept is so simple, even a child can grasp it.

    The idea of "respect" doesn't imply agreement or endorsement, but it does demand honor where honor is due. There is an interesting reality at work in this country that you won't find in many parts of the world. In America, it is perfectly acceptable and in fact, often encouraged to publicly berate and disrespect our nation's leaders. And while sites like "Sorry Everybody" may seem (forget "seem", they are) funny and perpetuate the whiny, pathetic, and downtrodden behavior of the average Liberal Bush-hater, these, among other public expressions of "displeasure" to the world are in fact more dangerous than we think.

    A house divided against itself cannot stand. Anyone who has engaged in battle (of any sorts) knows that those with dissension in the camp are ill-equipped to fight. When we as Americans, let the world know that we are divided even in our respect and support for our leadership, we are admitting a weakness and therefore opening ourselves up for attack.

    There are certain opinions that should remain spoken in a proper manner. The amount of published media filled with passionate abhorrance for the current administration is a testimony to the freedom that we have in this country. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion. In fact, that's what generally makes America "great". But even in our "greatness", we have fallen to a very low place. America is one of the few countries in the world that allows its citizens to "express" their opinions on government leadership with such vitriol. In many parts of the world, a person burning their leader in effigy (while in office) is a crime worthy of being gently escorted out of the country. And yet, here in America, we complain about civil liberties and freedom of speech yet our country allows people to simultaneously suck the government's teat while railing on its very existence. What complete and utter hogwash. To top this off, we even allow the people who have such animosity towards our government to still live here. We are truly a privileged society. Let us not forget that.

    So I apologize world, for us being so shallow and uppity and spoiled and ungrateful and disrespectful and self-centered. I apologize that we spend more time and energy raking our governmental leadership across the coals of "damned if you do, damned if you don't standards" than we do lifting them up in prayer.

    I apologize for our failure to recognize how completely embarrassing and silly we look when we heap manure on our own leaders who were elected according to our beloved democracy. I am sorry on behalf of those not mature enough to submit themselves to the electoral process.

    I am sorry that we set a poor example of what citizenship is all about by calling our governmental officials expletives and epithets and everything but the names they were given. Perhaps one day we will come to realize that submission isn't submission until we submit.

    On behalf of the whiny and the ill-informed part of America, I am truly sorry.

    [ Click to Enlarge ]

    Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry | Comments { 21 }
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    Michael Phelps is Sorry Too
    November 15, 2004

    I'll take underage Olympic Gold Medalists with DUI's for $400 please, Alex.

    We all remember Olympic figure skater Oksana Baiul's lovely mug shots when she crashed her Mercedes after guzzling five too many Long Island Ice Teas. Now it seems that 19-year-old Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps has come forth to say that along with 49% of America, he too is very sorry. But Phelps's condolences are for an entirely different matter. This Monday, Phelps appeared on the "Today Show" to clean up his recently tarnished image and preached the revelatory message that it's not good to drink and drive. And of course we all know that we can never get enough of the "drinking and driving is bad" curriculum.

    Late last week, Phelps was stopped by state police for running a stop sign--a subsequent event of him driving while under the influence of alcohol. Remember parents, this person is a role model of the "wholesome-hero".

    And it's not like Phelps's behavior is entirely uncommon to the American experience. He was no different than 75% of the guys I went high school and college with. The only distinction made is 1) Phelps has public influence, and 2) Phelps got caught. Hence, the public apology:

    "Last week, I made a mistake. Getting into a car after anything to drink is wrong. It's dangerous and unacceptable. I'm 19 and was taught that no matter how old you are, you should take responsibility for your actions, which I will do. I'm sorry."
    It is highly likely that these publicity measures are being done to salvage the 7+ mega endorsements waiting in the wings for this young gentleman.

    Everyone is deserving of redemption, but it still amazes me how easily we forgive and forget. The standard of behavior in our society is getting lower and lower.

    We're sorry too Michael. Everybody's sorry. I hereby commemorate this month as the month of sorrow.

    Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 10 }
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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