Entries Posted in "July 2005"

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Sort of Live from Santa Clara
July 30, 2005

To say BlogHer has been interesting is probably putting it mildly. My session included a panel discussion between myself and Rox Populi, both representing our respective "sides" (bleck) in politics. It's often hard to gage the success of panel discussions, but I think it went well. Although my comments on Ann Coulter during the session will probably get me disowned (it's never stopped me before), the session went fairly well (save the moment when a black woman in the audience asked if I was a KKK member...um, what?). There was a pod-cast and live-blogging of the session which I'll link later as well as discuss my overall perceptions of the conference, but first a couple of oddities.

  • The picture you see is a photo of my feet. Someone was going around doing interviews and taking pictures of participants' feet. All I remember thinking was how glad I was I wore close-toed shoes being that it's been at least 3 weeks since I last had a pedicure. Bare feet photos on the Internet = not cool.

  • There is a fairly good male population here--around 20%. I expected that. What I didn't expect was a male dressed up as a woman (commonly referred to by the progressive society as a "transsexual," a term I will not use because it consciously validates our society's dysfunction). People with testicles do not get to claim womanhood without a menstrual cycle, cramps, and at least having once had the semblance of the ability to push a watermelon through a Cheerio. And though I run the risk of sounding terribly shallow, I'm going to quote Jennifer Anniston aka "Rachel Green" from one of the 6-episodes of "Friends" I watched in my "backslidden days of predominately white prep schools,
    "No uterus, no opinion."
More later.

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 45 }
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It Starts
July 29, 2005

The Bay Area is a trip. I arrived in Santa Clara and barely stepped out of my rental car before I got into an argument with protesters. It figures.

I've been in Northern California for most of the week for work, but since the conference is in Santa Clara, I switched hotels today in order to be closer and so that I can more effectively roll out of bed and into my clothes in the morning. Whenever I travel and hotel accommodations are necessary, I prefer to stay at the Westin. Call me bourgeoisie, call me whatever you want, but I don't like having to guess if the hotel room I'm walking into will look and smell like it rents by the hour.

The Westin is a member of the Starwood Hotel chain, which is apparently being boycotted by some workers and some trustafarians who've burdened themselves with the cause of the disgruntled workers. A little googling has shown me that this same group has issue with Wal-Mart, which automatically puts them on my bad list (even though I can't stand Wal-Mart.)

I pulled up to my hotel, only to be greeted by two white (but tanned), hapless, college students, handing out propaganda. They gave me a flier which I decided I'd least glance at to see what had their panties in a punch. That was, until I walked through the doors and heard them yelling behind my back, "They don't deserve your money...You need to go somewhere else!" Since I don't do well with being yelled at, I made a mental note of their idiocy and quietly checked into my room.

Once I got settled in, I read the flier in its entirety, only to see that it was a union negotiation issue; employees wanted better health care. At surface, it sounds like a worthy cause, but I've always been skeptical of unions because I believe they have too much power. While they were once necessary, many have gone bad. Sort of like the NAACP and Burt Reynolds' toupee.

When it comes to common issues of protest I generally use one guiding principle:

  • Don't be manipulated by emotional attempts to gain your support, especially when backed by vague details.
With that, I went downstairs outside the hotel lobby and handed the protesters back their flier. They weren't happy and I didn't care. When they realized I didn't buy their cause, they began booing and slinging insults at me. The girl even tried to hand me back the flier. When I didn't take it, the paper dropped on the floor and she accused me of littering. In my less patient and uncivilized days, I would have had to let the chick know, but this time I calmly looked both of them in the eyes and said,

"If you think that yelling and slinging insults is making anybody listen to you or your cause, you are sadly mistaken."

After that, I left. Yes. BlogHer has gotten off to a grand start, I'd say. Tomorrow...we talk politics.


Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 3 }
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Gone to BlogHer

I've spent the last three days in Silicon Valley working and perfecting my nerdom and eating free food at a very cool um, place where I work. Tomorrow, I'll be speaking in a session at BlogHer with some 260+ other chicknerds, and if it weren't for the massive swelling taking place on the right side of my face, I'd be very excited. If you're there, stop by and see me. I'll try to update Flickr with photos. Of the conference, not me.

Google's sponsoring wireless access everywhere so I'll be updating with fashion critiques news from the frontlines.

Peace out.

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 6 }
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Thank You, Internet.

Despite my persistent contention that the internet is full of strange people (myself not included), and despite some readers who consistently feel the need to inform me of my "alleged stupidity" in the most abrasive possible ways, I have to concede that I have a great group of readers.

I've never once asked anyone to donate to this site because I'd do this for free. Heck, I do! Around Christmas time, I even had a reader suggest that I post a link to my Amazon.com wish list so people can bless me. Amazing. Around 6 months ago via some prodding, I threw up a paypal link in a non-obvious place. One of my first donations came from Glenn Reynolds. Instapundit himself. I felt like such a dink (made that word up) because if anyone should be donating to anyone, it should've been me giving to Mr. Instapundit. Nevertheless, I continued to be humbled by the great amount of supporters I've met by way of my blog.

I use that long introduction to say that with the help of all of you, some $1200+ was raised in less than three days for my sister Amelia's mission trip to Peru. I am floored, and I thank you all (even the person who said their donation was a veiled attempt at my hand in marriage). Anyone who knows me well knows that I would die for my family. Next to God, they are the most important thing to me. And when people extend gratitude to a member of my family, by default, that gratitude is extended to me.

I can't list of all the names because most donations came through the organization and I don't know who you are, but of those few I know I will name. Forgive me if I forget anyone.

Thank yous to: Tony Pierce, Diana D., Avery S., Denise C., Glenn W., Devon H., Christine C., Alison J., Dave T., Robert H. John N., Garvel N., Benjamin H., Christopher N., and many more.

Internet, I salute you, and I give you hug.

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 2 }
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The Porn Generation
July 28, 2005

I'll never forget the day I went into the "student center" of my university and saw a flier on the wall that read "C#!t Club: celebrate your vagina." (Don't be prudish, we're all adults here, we can type the names of body parts without squeeling, right?) That's right folks. A university-sponsored organization that gathered around the topic of female masturbation. Self-gratification in more ways than one. That was one of many moments that shaped my ideas around the abuse of higher education.

While in the airport yesterday on my way down to the Silicon Valley, I stopped in the bookstore to pick up a copy of "Wired," my new favorite magazine, when I saw a shelf full of Ben Shapiro's new eye-catching book, "Porn Generation: how social liberalism is corrupting our future." Amen brother, Amen. I picked it up and read a few chapters, but since I'm not fond of marking up $26 books, I'm waiting on the paperback, annotation addict-friendly version to buy.

If the title is any indication, I once again grant Shapiro the award for being the youngest published nail hitter. And Ben's right; the ubiquitous nature of the pornography industry and a host of liberalists bent on forming policy around morally relative ideals is blatantly guiding the principles (or lack thereof) of an entire generation. The book synopsis reads:

"Pornography: it's everywhere -- at the video shop, in your newspaper, in your inbox. And although American society grows increasingly accepting of this state of affairs, porn is unmistakably dangerous: it presents a warped image of sex and self-satisfaction that ridicules the values of faith and family, mangling the most sacred ideals of matrimony. In 'Porn Generation,' Ben Shapiro explains why. This book is about a generation of Americans lost in a maelstrom of moral relativism in a culture obsessed with cheap, degraded, casual sex. It's a powerful wake-up call outlining what we must do now to eradicate this scourge and reclaim the values that made America great."
A loaded topic indeed if you just turn on your television. For young unmarried types, media is rampant with images that lay an unhealthy foundation and "awaken love before its time." Incidentally, they are images that wouldn't have been allowed on television 20 years ago. The standard is steadily being lowered and we've created new terms to deal with our low standards. For example, what is "soft porn?" I say porn is porn, and it's all quite disgusting for many reasons. Among them, the manner in which it distorts and perverts our view of sex.

This particular topic is important because in the case of any generation, the mistakes of today will be seen in full tomorrow. Sin has wages and it's a "pay me now or pay me later" type deal. There is a root cause of AIDS sweeping the country, and it has little to do with poverty in Africa. The lesson here: if we don't get a grip on the worldview of the next generation (especially as it relates to the family structure), we will pay later.

The overwhelming critique of Shapiro's book, even among conservatives, is that instead of dealing with the root of temptation, he offers poor solutions (most of which includes complete government censorship). I'll reserve my thoughts until I finish reading the book, but I'm curious, in light of the discussion taking place in the media and in government about how to address the porn issue (in relation to those under 18), which direction do you suggest we head?

Posted by Ambra in Sex/Purity | Link to This Entry | Comments { 30 }
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It's No Wonder We're Overweight

I used to think "food fights" were the epitome of excess. I mean, if we have enough food to throw at each other, surely we can give to those who need it. I have since changed my stance on "food fights."

I hereby give the "Epitome of Excess" award to the "International Federation of Competitive Eating" (IFOCE). How completely wasteful and disgusting. Shameful.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 3 }
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Created to Work

While driving in downtown Seattle last week, I saw a curious message illegally spray-painted on the side of a popular building. In bold red letters it read, "Work is slavery." Imagine that. All this time I was mislead in my thinking that the slaves were freed a long time ago. The tag on the graffiti indicated the message had been left by our resident anarchists--the same people responsible for massive amounts of damage to downtown Seattle during WTO protests, and most likely individuals who by some turn of events (including but not limited to the possession of a trust fund, large quantities of marijuana in the bloodstream, or privilege beyond belief) do not have to work.

Granted, on most days I pay little if any attention to those who espouse a philosophy rooted in a disdain of all forms of authority (nationalists included). The "work is slavery" campaign, however, caught my attention because it is American misconception #5,672 (right next to "It's not good to judge" and "Money is evil").

For starters, in order to even remotely embrace the notion that earning money by working would cause some type of burden, requires a fundamental misunderstanding of what exactly human beings should be doing on the earth. Moreover, it suggests that Americans are terribly spoiled. If having to work in order to earn money is our biggest problem, we are leagues ahead of half the world.

That said, the distinction too infrequently made is that "working" and "having job" are not synonymous concepts. "Work" is a function of making ourselves productive. It has no end date or retirement options. It doesn't always pay what it deserves, but it is a lifelong endeavor. Having a "job," on the other hand, is temporal and doesn't always necessitate productivity; it just requires that we show up. For some people, having a "job" is an aspect of their work. In many cases, however, you'll find people in "jobs" that have little or nothing to do with their purpose, passion or happiness.

Thanks to a realistic upbringing, there is a good segment of the American population that has mastered the reality that if you don't work; you don't eat. They sit behind desks, they dry clean clothes, and they even deliver pizzas, even if only for a season. There are also those who've broken free from the shackles of this "work/eat" reality and resorted to begging, panhandling, and holding up sob story signs that rarely include the phrase "will work" but always manage to toss in the requisite "God Bless You." The irony of it all.

"Work," in short, is the act of human beings taking care of the earth. "Work" may look a number of different ways, but rest assured, contrary to what the "Simpsons" may tell us, no human was created to just sit around and waste space. Otherwise, the earth would be full of animals--not people. Intelligent design? You bet.

Armed with perhaps the greatest set-up in all of history, human beings have been granted an earth designed with all necessary resources (despite what ecologists may suggest) to produce a harvest to anyone willing to work it. Immigrants in America have realized the beauty of this soil and can manage to yield more return in a decade than many Americans do in a lifetime. The term "unemployment" was fashioned for the lazy, not the person who's "down on their luck." In America, lack of a means of finances is often a choice. It sounds taboo, but it's true. Hard times may come, but human ingenuity is free and given to all. The winner will always be the person who finds a solution to a problem.

Paper clips.
The light bulb.
Nail salons.
Nonprofit Organizations.
Audio books.
Educational Television.
Just few of the many successful "solutions" to the world's many problems. With enough irritation, anyone can be driven to solve a problem. We were all created to be productive with the talents, gifts, and abilities inside us. Perhaps the biggest deception isn't that "work is slavery," but rather that it's impossible to be compensated for what we love to do best. We were never created just to "have a job." So what problem are you working towards solving today?

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 6 }
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Judging the Book
July 24, 2005

We've all heard the popular adage that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. For the most part, I wholeheartedly agree. Everyone we encounter won't come packaged the way we'd expect, so we can't just saunter through life always making surface determinations about people. Yet, even in the most literal sense, that "saying" only means so much when you browse the several hundred shelves of your local Barnes & Noble. There I challenge you to find a coverless book. Instead, you'll find aisles of glossy book jackets with specialized fonts and eye-capturing images. Why? Because despite the fact that the cover gives absolutely no indication of excellence, insight or profundity, human nature is more inclined to think so based on what we initially see. Simply put: the average buyer's attention is both gained and informed by a well-designed book cover.

As it's illustrated in the tangible, so it is with us. A recent USA Today article reported on a study into how appearance affects the size of one's paycheck. This one's a doosie:

When Jennifer Portnick wanted to be a Jazzercise franchisee, she says, she was denied. The reason: The company had a policy that required exercise instructors to appear fit. Portnick, who weighed 240 pounds, didn't pass.

So she filed a civil complaint under a San Francisco ordinance that bans discrimination based on weight and height. The company changed its policy, and she dropped her complaint.

What a waste of a discrimination complaint. Apparently it's too much to ask that an exercise instructor be in shape. As a side note, I might add that nearly every physical education instructor I had from elementary school on up was both overweight and a lesbian, how about you?

Here's an interesting case out of our nation's capitol. Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you: The Flip-Flop Scandal. No it doesn't involve John Kerry, but it does involve poor clothing choices. As I'm sure you've all heard by now, this story which is probably taking up more media time than it needs (though this shouldn't come as a surprise seeing as how Aruba is still on the map). When members of the Northwestern University women's championship lacrosse team showed up at the White House donning flip-flops, people took note. CBS News reports

After Northwestern University's national championship women's lacrosse team visited the White House, a group photo showed several players wearing flip-flop sandals along with their dresses and skirts.

A controversy quickly followed, with one front-page headline quoting an e-mail sent to a player: "YOU WORE FLIP-FLOPS TO THE WHITE HOUSE?!" Family members of other players were also dismayed, saying the footwear was too casual for a visit with the president.

Funny stuff and it doesn't surprise me in the least. Not only does the younger generation generally lack the grace and etiquette so common to our parents, we've re-written the rules. Now I'm a big fan of flip-flops, and I understand their cultural relevancy (nowadays they have sequinned flip-flops, and you can even wear them in the workplace), but when was the last time you saw Jenna & Barbara Bush wearing flip-flops to a White House event? Okay, bad examples. Point being, the lacrosse players certainly weren't breaking any rules (President Bush probably cared less), but as my mother always told me, "You never know who's watching." Dress for the occasion. To their credit, the girls turned the situation around.

MSNBC's Monica Crowley didn't mince words on the subject:

"Pardon me, but a day at the White House is not a day at the beach. You do not show up to meet the Leader of the Free World dressed as if you are about to slather on some Coppertone and catch a wave."
We often preach about how it's not good to judge, but I beg to differ. We must judge. It's a daily survival tactic and one that we employ whether we admit it or not. We live in a world where the book is constantly judged by the cover. There's a reason why accountants don't wear shorts and a t-shirt when they meet with their clients. Sometimes, people just need to play the game.

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 12 }
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In the Land of the Living
July 19, 2005
You know it's a small world when you're standing in the airport security line, preparing to be frisked when a reader of your blog yells to you from across the barrier, "Hey! Are you flying to the Blogher Conference today?" Whoa. Running into a reader would be a first for me. Today's lesson: you never know who's watching.

Speaking of which, while sitting in the Montego Bay Airport, my sister and I watched in horror as a girl ate two consecutive boogers without so much as an ounce of shame. Ah to be young and not care who's watching. What is it about kids that makes them want to eat hardened phlegm? No one teaches them to do this. They certainly aren't emulating the behavior of their parents (most of the time). Is there some special sense common to 6-year-olds that automatically activates the booger appetite? Food for thought (no pun intended).

To those who were concerned, we caught the tail end of Hurricane Emily (although I'm sure some would prefer it named "Hurricane Shantika"). All is well (for us at least), the folks in Mexico seem to be experiencing more difficulties. Nevertheless, I'm back in the states, and a vacation was just what the doctor ordered. I missed nykola.com. Updates to follow. There is SO much to talk about.

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 12 }
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July 12, 2005

In case it isn't painfully obvious: I'm burned out. Not badly, but I am nonetheless. Anytime Beyonce I-have-a-fake-French-name Knowles and her posse can give lap dances to married man on national television without me even saying so much as a word about it on my weblog, is a bad sign. I need a vacation.

I'm sure one might think this silly since I have no kids and no husband, but if there's one thing the last 4 years have taught me, it's never to underestimate the level of sacrifice and trials a person has experienced.

I've often been told I am the "oldest 23-year-old" many people have ever met. Maybe, but I still have to play. It turns out a new job, a new townhouse, and new responsibilities can wear on even little ole me. Time isn't the issue. Mental space is. So I am retreating for a few days to clear my head so I can be more useful to this little-known haven on the web.

And I know you're sitting there thinking, "well who cares, it's not like you've been posting consistently anyway..." And you'd be right, smart aleck. However, over the last month or so, a day hasn't passed when I haven't popped in on my own website, hoping to see if I've actually posted something. Yeah, I'm psychotic, I know. So in reality, I've not truly vacated from my blog. But that is what I need to do.

So I have decided to go "suffer for Jesus" in the Caribbean. I need a good reason to post pictures to my Flickr account. For the next 5 days, my location will be Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I'll see you bright and early on Monday, July 18th, hopefully refreshed, rejuvenated, wordier, and maybe a bit crispier.

Posted by Ambra in Blogging | Link to This Entry | Comments { 31 }
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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