Entries Posted in "June 2005"

Quote of the Day
June 28, 2005

Said Jada Pinkett Smith of award acceptance speeches during the opening monologue of tonight's BET Awards:

"Do not thank God if you can't show or perform your work in church. Some of you just need to thank your manager and keep it movin'."

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 21 }
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Chick Nerds Unite!
June 27, 2005

I think I forgot to mention it, but next month I've been invited to be one of two panelists for the "Political Blogging Grows Up" session at the BlogHer Conference in Santa Clara, CA. It should be fun. If it's not, I'll be sure to make it fun by engaging the audience in a sing-along or something totally immature to counter the session title "Political Blogging Grows Up."

If you're planning on being at the conference, come say hi. The conference is geared to female bloggers, but it's open to men as well. Apparently, some 15% of the conference registrants are men. I won't question motives...yet.

I always find blogger gatherings both amusing and awkward. When internet people converge, you can bet there will always be some weirdo that shows up with thongs and socks on, abnormally long fingernails and body odor. This personal usually fits the "stalker profile" and quickly identifies themself by making an off-color morbid joke that leaves people wondering whether they should laugh or just call the cops. There are some seriously strange people on the internet.

But for every wacko, there are about 10 fabulous people that you'd never meet otherwise. Among the "normal," I find there to be two types of people on the internet.

  1. People who are on the internet because it allows them to avoid social situations and real, live, human contact.
  2. People who are on the internet because it leads to more social situations and real, live human contact.
I am of the latter variety and find that I don't always "click" well with the first. You know when you're talking to someone and they run out of things to say so all of sudden the conversation hits a dead silence and you wish some crickets would enter the room because at least then there'd be some rhythm? I usually expect one or two of those type of conversations when I attend blogger meet-ups. Not that everyone isn't extremely nice and cordial, but in those awkward moments I realize: some people are best left conversing on the internet.

Still, I've met some great friends and colleagues through this whole blogging thing and I hope to meet more.

I think it was blogger Jason Kottke who once asked people about their personality types and immediately found that the internet was full of introverts. And for the most part, I agree. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. (Some of the best conversations can be had with introverts so please note: I'm not drawing any sort of connection here between introversion and lack of social aptitude. Wouldn't want anyone to think I was discriminating. Plus, I have a lot of introvert friends, OKAY!)

There are a whole host of folks (myself included) who are loud, rambunctious, outgoing, and find that we can filter some of that energy through the internet. I think we tend to scare the introverts in person. Many people have taken the Bloginality test which as far as I'm concerned is just the Myers-Briggs test in bloggerspeak. As I'm sure you can imagine I'm not fond of man-made personality tests. But if I must represent, I'll say ENTJ till I die baby!

Blogging conferences eh? Just what have I gotten myself into?

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 8 }
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My Comment Filter, the Grouch
June 23, 2005

Apologies are in order to those who've posted comments the last few days and had them rejected by my grumpy comment filter. It seems I inadvertently made it hyper-sensitive, restrictive, and legalistic. It doesn't like the word "Hi," or any words with "hi" in them, like, "while" or "hick," or "OMG Can you believe Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are engaged!?" Oh wait, that's just me who doesn't like those words. Anyway, you get the point. It's "hi" that's the trigger.

Next thing we know, my comment filter is going to start banning people from wearing make-up and high-heels, and force all female users to wear turtlenecks and skirts all the way to the ground.

The issue will be resolved shortly, but in the meantime, feel free to use "hi" all you want, just know that comments may be forced into moderation so I'll have to approve it. But I'm nice, I always approve quickly.

Again, apologies if your precious jewels of wisdom didn't make it through the last few days. I value reader feedback, so thanks to those who emailed me to let me know of the problem and if your comment didn't go through yesterday, dust yourself off and try again.

(Update 06/23): Rather unrelated, but while searching for pictures for this post, I found this picture of a dog whose owner dyed its hair green and dressed him as "Oscar the Grouch" for a pet costume party. Funny stuff.

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 6 }
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Can We Live?

A few weeks back, while viciously flipping through channels, I decided to pop-in on BET to see just what type of debacle Robert Johnson has left. While I generally associate a high degree of irrelevance and painful ignorance with every aspect of BET, I was shocked to see that in the midst of the mind-numbing, superficial self-glorification, was a music video that actually made me think. Can you even imagine thinking while watching a music video? Lately, it's unheard of, but every now and then, somebody gets it.

Nick Cannon's latest song/video, "Can I Live?"--a tribute to his mother, who at 17-years-old, considered aborting him, but chose to give him life--is by far one of the most creative and purposeful music videos of the year. Hands down. By coincidence I'm sure, it's fairly popular as well. With all the lemming behavior in the music industry, who would think creativity and a life-altering message could go so far? Cannon himself is barely a B-list artist, and by most peoples' critique, he isn't even a good rapper. Then again, neither is 50 Cent. Yet it's interesting how truth always stands up in the midst of a bunch of lies.

I've yet to see someone make a music video from the first person perspective of a child in the womb. If you haven't yet seen it, you can view it online on the frontpage of Nick Cannon's website. It won't take but a few minutes of your day. Watch it. It's important, and in a moment I'll say why.

If you've been around for a minute, then you know I'm a believer and exhorter in the unmatched potential of the hip hop generation. I don't believe music is evil, and I don't even think hip hop is evil. I believe people are bad and people make bad music. Which is simply to say that music is merely a reflection of what is or isn't inside the person who is making it. I've also long stated that as a whole, the black community is fairly socially conservative with abortion being one of the key issues to divide people. So it doesn't surprise me in the least that this video has been so popular on BET. Shocking is that it's being played on MTV, purveyors of all that is carnal. Apparently, people are listening.

In the past, few rappers and singers have accurately touched on the issue of abortion. Those who have, (Common and Nas to name a few) usually nullify their message via lifestyle and the general questionable content of their albums (think R. Kelly "You Saved Me"). Back in the 90s it became trendy for everyone to have at least one "moral" (under a relative definition, of course) song on their profanity-laced, raunchified albums. The trouble was, when you sandwich a song called "Pray" in between songs titled, "She's Soft and Wet" and "Yo!! Sweetness," you're bound to stir up some sort of confusion.

In case people haven't noticed, a double-minded message lacks power. The curse of my generation isn't that we don't have something to stand for; it's that we don't have the integrity to back it up. So while everything else Nick Cannon may do from here on out could be a total disaster (isn't he the same guy that made a song with R. Kelly called "Gigolo"?), it is my ultimate desire that he not do anything to jeopardize peoples' ability to receive the truth. Right now, he has my respect.

Perhaps even more interesting than Cannon's video is the buzz created by conservative media and anti-abortion groups (who at times can be just as opportunistic as the worst incarnation of Jesse Jackson). Why is it interesting? Because some of those who've praised Cannon's video are the same people who've stereotyped, vilified, and discounted the potential of the hip hop generation every step of the way. Meanwhile, I guarantee you that three minutes and thirty seconds of Nick Cannon pseudo rapping his life-story will touch far more people than an anti-abortion rally, a hokey billboard, or any crummy pro-life literature you try to shove at kids in the school parking lot. PETA has already claimed that territory.

Hello? Has anyone been paying attention? No one cares. That's right, no one. No one cares that every year millions of women pay to have their babies murdered. No one cares that it's a business. No one cares that every human being has a purpose and a destiny. No one cares that it's evil, and no one cares that it's wrong. Those that do have already been won. Let's stop doing the same thing, expecting different results.

So what will it take to touch the next generation of potential child-killers? It will require that the message be made relevant. Here's a hint to pro-lifers: relevant might not look like you. Moreover, it probably doesn't sound like you either. This is America folks, not the GOP (contrary to popular belief, the two are not synomous).

So it seems many conservatives are just as guilty of the double-mindedness that is so typical of my generation. In fact, everyone from every political angle is guilty at some point or another. Aren't Christians the same ones applauding Mel Gibson, doing 6-part series Bible lessons on "The Matrix" and simultaneously cursing all of Hollywood? In this case, conservatives want to piggy back on anything and everything that will trumpet the cause of the moment. Never mind that six weeks ago we were whipping that same back we're now riding. We have forgotten that all that's been perverted can most certainly be redeemed.

For those who wish to be influential beyond "Left" and "Right" thinking, there is a subtext to "Can I Live?". Nick Cannon's video is just the tip of a very large and colorful iceberg. In a multi-sensory generation, the winner of this game is the one who can infiltrate the fastest. My 16-year-old brother does his homework while watching television, listening to his iPod and instant messaging his friends. This should tell us something about the power of media. The garden is ripe.

My advice? Commit to winning over those who have within them, the ability to influence far more than a political party ever could. Because if there's one thing I know: there is a large section of tomorrow's leaders who aren't interested in sipping the political agenda kool-aid. No; they're after truth, however it is fed.

"Can I Live?" Lyrics

Others Sound-Off:

- The Black Informant
- Evangelical Outpost
- BlackAmericaWeb
- Apologia Chrisi (one commenter says politics and music shouldn't mix)
- An interesting post-abortion journal entry (lang. warning)
- WorldNetDaily

Posted by Ambra in Abortion, Culture, Music, Pop Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 14 }
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Wherein I Realize I Am A Nerd
June 22, 2005

It doesn't take much to excite me. Shoe shopping, a book, bacon, a day-off, a buffet, a pedicure--it's the little things in life that get me going. Up until yesterday, I thought I was a pretty cool person. I mean, I dress myself fairly well, I've never been known to wear highwaters, I have a life outside of the Internet, and I can even go a few days without checking my email. I'd also add that I don't like Star Wars, Star Trek, or Star _ _ _ _ (insert nerdy science fiction show). I can't even see "Revenge of the Sith" because there is a high probability that I would fall asleep. Plus, I do not know what a "Sith" is, nor do I care. My cool factor is way up there guys, I'm telling you. Nerd isn't it my vocabulary. Up until now, I have resisted the title "nerd" because I am oh so much cooler than that.

Okay so yes I designed my website by myself and can quote you nearly every product Apple has ever launched, dates included. Yes I salivate in the Powerbook section of the Apple store, I think "pretty" is an acceptable adjective for peripherals. I even know what peripheral means. And yes I have been known to surf the web in the bathroom, and I even get laptopstomach once in awhile (for those who don't know, "laptopstomach" as I've coined it, is when you fall asleep in bed with your laptop on your stomach and wake up with a giant red mark where your battery pack has burned you.) It's happened to me more than once.

Yesterday however, sitting in a small room in a meeting, on a beanbag chair with Sergey Brin sitting on my left, while we're having casual conversation and I thought to myself, "Self, you are WAYYYY too excited right now. But it's Sergey Brin! Brin! Brin!"

And then it hit me: I am a nerd.

Savor it guys, because you will never hear or read me say it again.

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 20 }
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The Last Post on Michael Jackson
June 21, 2005

After reading this vapid USA Today article, there is nothing left to say. My favorite part?:

Adds Oxman, formerly a member of Jackson's defense team: "Michael is an extraordinarily resilient human being. He has been through storms of monumental proportions since he was 8 years old and seen his way through them all."

Still, the accumulated effect of decades of high-profile odd behavior could be tough to overcome.

Thomas Mesereau Jr. told NBC's Today that Jackson will no longer share his bed with young boys.

"He's not going to do that anymore," Mesereau said." "He's not going to make himself vunerable to this anymore."

Well there's a relief.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 9 }
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So You Wanna be a Toys'R'Us Kid?

If there ever were a trait of the Western society, it would be our glorification of extended periods of youthfulness. While some cultures celebrate Bar Mitzvahs or some other meaningful rites of passage into responsibility, most Americans deem the right to legally drink alcohol the defining event of adulthood. It matters not how old you are. If you don't want to grow up, darn it, you don't have to. There is a general consensus that grown adults with facial hair and aging spots can continue to shrug off responsibility and act like juveniles without common sense.

This "celebration" manifests in a number of ways. On any given Saturday night, a stroll through your city's center will reveal the decay of responsibility as we know it. There you'll find career panhandlers, 42-year-old women lining up in miniskirts to get into the club, and adults with day jobs and mortgages walking around the streets in a drunken stupor and singing karaoke very badly. Which isn't to say karaoke is a bad thing. If that's your bag, then by all means please, butcher yet another Whitney Houston classic.

While some people just refuse to grow up, the rest of us sit back and make excuses for the partakers in youthful revelry. We say things like, "His father beat him," or "She was poor," or "She grew up without parents," or "He never really had a childhood." Somehow the presence of life's hardships qualifies certain people for a pardon of the same responsibility of adulthood. In light of this reality, I have a news flash for us all:

Life's not fair. And then you die.

No matter who you are or where you come from, someone else has it worse. We have all faced hardship in varying degrees and measure, but the onset of adulthood requires us to grow up. It is truly disheartening to see people so thrown off the course of life by a family curse, a rocky childhood, or a devastating life experience. What's sad is a world that would have us to think we must remain shackled to our past--that there is no deliverance and no possibility for "success." The true overcomers don't get the credit they deserve and instead we make excuses for the sick.

So how is it that a 46-year-old disfigured pop icon who's admitted to inapporpriately sleeping with boys still remains "innocent?" Many have chalked it up to poor prosecution and sketchy witnesses. I chalk it up to a society that is sympathetic to the plight of the immature and dysfunctional adult. Enough with the romanticized acceptance of Jackson's brand of strange. We live in a society that has standards (no matter how vague and low). Still, I am certain a court of law will never be the location of Jackson's conviction. Our culture isn't ready to set such a presendent of accountability. For that reason alone, it's a good thing conviction of the heart is a far more accurate judge of character.

The biggest issue at stake isn't that justive be served, but that Jackson would break out of the shackles and join the mature, healthy, and fully functioning adults of our society.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 3 }
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I Knew I Liked Steve Jobs

I'm not a fan of commencement speeches. In fact, I think commencement in general should be entirely revamped. The graduates should be given their diplomas first and then be dismissed to party while parents, relatives and faculty partake of the pomp and listen to the rambling commencement addresses which are generally wrought with cliches, and "feel good" messages that couldn't motivate me to move my couch let alone move my life.

So understand that it is with a relative amount of cynicism that I listened to Apple and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs' recent Stanford University commencement address. In a detour not typical of these types of speeches, Jobs avoided the bland talk of the responsibility that comes with a college degree and went in for the kill:

You've got to find what you love (an excerpt)

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Now that will preach. He ends:
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
Mr. Jobs, I'm taking notes. Read the speech in its entirety. The liberation of failure is unparalleled.

Posted by Ambra in Education | 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
Hindsight
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