Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sizing Up “Sexist” Ads

Cracked.com has relatively interesting lists and articles. While I can't help but be dubious of many of the more serious ones, the less serious ones can still irk me from time to time. Case in point, this list: http://www.cracked.com/article_17036_8-tv-ads-that-hate-women.html

It isn't like I've never seen lists or ads like this before, a quick YouTube search will come up with dozens of "misogynist" vintage ads. What I wonder about is what the point is of making lists like these.

Firstly, concentrating specifically on the eight ads chosen by Cracked, it seems absurd that an inanimate TV ad can maintain the mental state of hate

As for the ads themselves (specifically the old ads), while I won't try to deny that the producers of these ads didn't harbor some less than egalitarian sentiments toward women, the best approach is to look at the ads in one of two ways: They're outdated, so they serve as kitsch, or, they are an appropriate summation of their particular consumer zeitgeist – at least as examined by the company or researchers in question.

The kitsch part is easy. Speaking for myself, I've always had an affinity for these types of ads because they personify an era that I was not a part of, but that I've been able to marginally experience through the aid of Nick at Nite shows. False Nostalgia Syndrome, if you will. So, I enjoy them: the phony parochial nature of them all, the style, the transatlantic announcer voice. They're fun to watch because they're subdued, or if they're camp, they don't get near a flicker on the barometer of trash that most modern commercials easily hit.

When critiquing older ads, is the point to highlight how absurd the copy sounds when pitted against our more "enlightened" commercials of today (are there any?)

With new ads, what is the goal? What would complaining about a diamond commercial accomplish? Instead of complaining that the commercial portrays women as naïve little animals distracted by shiny stuff, why doesn't an endorser of "equality" complain about how the commercials generally show men proposing to women? Why not women proposing to men? What about couples who say, screw the expensive rings and let's instead go for something else – maybe ring tattoos? Diamonds might be forever, but so is ink, and there's no need for layaway plans with the latter.

A yogurt commercial might show two chatty women conversing about shoe shopping and noshing on sweets, but is it accurate to say this portrayal reveals a "hatred" of women? Should we instead assume that all women talk about at a spa is Shakespeare and Milton? Remember, the medium is television and the point of advertising is to move products, not show viewers how interesting some actors on a set can be.

Even though lists like these may be harmless fun, despite their flinging of derogatory labels like sexist, misogynist, etc, I have seen enough of them to ask: Why bother bringing them up?

Probably because it makes for cheap entertainment, much like most of television.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Consumption Dysfunction

Food stamp restrictions, new labels, restaurant and movie theater calorie display proposals – all of this, and more is part of what should be called “ChubGate” - the continued crackdown on any and all elements which appear to be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

Recently, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has announced new front-of-package food labels aimed toward simplifying the information for health conscious consumers.1

Food packaging has changed in recent years- hilariously. Check any cereal aisle today, and you’ll find the most sugar-laden cereal emblazoned with the promising “Made with whole grains!” Yes, Cocoa Puffs may well indeed contain grains, but the claim is largely counterfeit – it’s still a chocolate cereal. But if individuals want to have a bowl for breakfast (which would actually contain fewer calories than a bowl of organic granola) they should be able to do so. Of course, General Mills can afford to make these changes to their packaging. What about the smaller food companies that can’t?

The alleged aim of the new food labels is to target “busy customers.” Are we to believe that customers who shop at grocery stores do it at such a rapid pace that they don’t have time to turn over a can and check calorie counts? I don’t mean to speak for all, but in my own experience, I often become irritated at the leisurely stroll many patrons take in grocery stores. You’d be hard pressed to see someone running across one –unless they’re playing tag, or running after a small child who has begun a quest for Dunkaroos (sorry, kid, but I think you can only get them online now.)

There is one solution, it would be much cheaper, though potentially rather tedious: Turn all food packages around so the labels appear on the front.

Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, Marion Nestle (ironic name if I have ever heard one,) regularly condemns some of the proposed changes to food labels (including the front-of-packaging labels) but then urges the FDA to heed her advice and condemn the proposals.2

Why try and get the FDA on your side? This is the same bloated government department that was responsible for, among other things, the 2004 Vioxx scandal. The FDA admitted that this drug was responsible for 27,785 deaths3 and that it made “lapses” in judgment.4 One death is a lapse in judgment. Over 25,000 is institutionalized recklessness and chagrin. And let us not forget that it takes about 10 years to get a drug through all the FDA’s loops. Instead of suing McDonalds, why not sue the FDA?

Of course, the linchpin of the debate is calories. When it comes to stigmatizing calories, soda particularly gets a bad rap. A 12 ounce can of Coke contains 140 calories; compare this to a 6.75 ounce box of Juicy Juice brand apple juice, which boasts 100 calories. Too many people presume that fruit juice and lemonade is vastly nutritionally superior to soda, when in actuality, calories and grams of sugar are pretty much the same. Similarly, too many people are of the belief that salad – even fast food salads, are “healthier” than burgers. There are 425 calories and 21.4 grams of fat in a McDonald’s chicken Caesar salad with croutons and dressing, compared to the 253 calories and 7.7 grams of fat in a hamburger.

But what about calorie labels at fast food restaurants, does it really work?

A 2009 study which looked at consumption rates in McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Kentucky Fried Chicken’s located in poorer New York City neighborhoods found that people actually ordered more calories since the labeling law was established the year prior.5

No matter how hard bean sprout-munching anti-fat crusaders like MeMe Roth (of the National Action Against Obesity) fight for food bans, the government can’t change the delusions or the cravings of individuals. Personal responsibility should be the one game in town.

The government’s main barometer of health, the Body Mass Index (BMI) reveals that George Clooney is overweight, and Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger are obese.6 What results from getting government involved to somehow slow down the obesity crisis? Decades of contradictory information (milk is good- ignore the 1 in 10 Americans who are lactose intolerant, eggs are bad – no, now they’re good again), a lot of strong arming and nanny politics, an arbitrary and unhelpful food pyramid, and a one-size-fits-all standard of determining individual health.

With all this talk of changing labels, why not take a cue from the new cigarette package labels (showing pictures of diseased lungs and corpses)7 and put pictures of fatty livers and piano box caskets on packages of Twinkies and Girl Scout Cookies? Maybe that will make Meme Roth happy.



1. http://www.idfa.org/key-issues/details/5319/

2. http://www.foodpolitics.com/2009/10/industry-abandons-smart-choices/

3. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/vioxx_estimates.html

4. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/02/politics/02fda.html

5. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/nyregion/06calories.html

6. http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/09/14/michelle-obama-and-the-food-police/

7. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-11-10/cigarette-packages-may-carry-images-of-corpses-lungs.html

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Firebrand Loyalty

My responses to this FuturePundit.com article, on religiosity and brand loyalty. My comments are in bold.


Lost Religion Leads To More Brand Loyalty?

By Randall Parker at 2010 November 15 09:04 PM Brain Loyalty

Prof. Ron Shachar of Tel Aviv University's Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration says that a consumer's religiosity has a large impact on his likelihood for choosing particular brands. Comsumers who are deeply religious are less likely to display an explicit preference for a particular brand, while more secular populations are more prone to define their self-worth through loyalty to corporate brands instead of religious denominations. Here is where the obvious bias creeps in like a thief in the night. Notice the use of “define their self-worth” now look at how the sentence would look without this passively inflammatory distraction: “…while more secular populations are more prone to loyalty to corporate brands instead of religious denominations.” Still makes sense, eh?

This research, in collaboration with Duke University and New York University scientists, recently appeared in the journal Marketing Science. What is charming, is that the research is hinted at here, and in the lede, but that’s the end of it discussion. The result? "Here is some recent news that shows how silly and materialistic those atheists are, nevermind about causation and correlation, let me quote clichéd aphorisms to prove my point."

Now, without having read the report, or having done further research on what it said but merely commenting that it does not appear the writer of this article did much research either, I could, for the sake of argument, advance past studies in an attempt to find a correlation between non-religion and brand loyalty. First, numerous studies have concluded that non-believers tend to be more highly educated than believers. (Here is one such study: http://freethinker.co.uk/features/atheists-are-more-intelligent-than-religious-people/) If we grant that higher education (remember, this article is talking mainly about academics) leads to higher income/fewer children, this might mean an individual who is more tech savvy. After all, what is this research really about, whether or not atheists always go for Cheerios rather than generic wheat circles, or whether they go for specific brand-name electronics? So, yes, an academic who is more tech savvy, might be brand loyal one way or another. It seems silly if the results of the study showed allegiance toward a particular food or toiletry item, they likely were looking at products that are more involved. And if they weren't, what is the conclusion? Heavier marketing toward atheists? Is that the point of the marketing research?

More simply, higher education = higher wages = more likelihood of shopping the brand name and not buying generic/store brand.

There are a number of reasons this connection could have been shown, hell, I might be wrong, but to jump to the conclusion that “It’s because they’re de facto worshipping corporations” is ludicrous.

I am reminded of a quote (comes in variations) attributed to G.K. Chesterton: "When a Man stops believing in God he doesn¹t then believe in nothing, he believes anything." The real origin of the quote might be Emile Cammaerts writing about Chesterton:

The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything. Wrong. The first effect of not believing in God is not beliving in God. The first step in believing in God, for which no good evidence exists, is to believe in anything (witches, goblins, unicorns, the tooth fairy – all have equal lack of evidence for their existence.)

Okay, without taking a side in the God Stuff debate can we think rationally about what is going on here? (the answer to that question might depend on our specific brand loyalties - not sure if my fairly shallow loyalties to Google, Amazon, or Norelco will serve as an obstacle). My take: I suspect we all have a finite capacity for loyalty or feeling of being allied or bonded. Take away a supernatural belief and reverence and basically some unused capacity for loyalty (need for loyalty?) becomes available for hijacking by corporate marketers. Is this an improvement? It depends on the specific beliefs and loyalties. For example, I'd rather someone have loyalty to a brand of running shoes or cell phone than loyalty to a diety who he thinks wants him to blow up tube stations. Obvious anti-Islamic sentiments here. Imagine if it had read “…than loyalty to a diety who actually expects me to believe he had a son who he put on earth for my sins and was killed on the cross by a pack of Jews and then came back to life a few days later.” But loyalties to cigarette brands or sugary soda brands are definitely harmful to health.

Think religious thoughts before shopping and your purchasing choices will be less driven by brand loyalties. (Hah, hah.) Better yet – spend your money on tithe?

Researchers discovered that those participants who wrote about their religion prior to the shopping experience were less likely to pick national brands when it came to products linked to appearance or self-expression — specifically, products which reflected status, such as fashion accessories and items of clothing. For people who weren't deeply religious, corporate logos often took the place of religious symbols like a crucifix or Star of David, providing feelings of self-worth and well-being. According to Prof. Shachar, two additional lab experiments done by this research team have demonstrated that like religiousity, consumers use brands to express their sense of self-worth. Because the crucifix and star of David aren’t well-marketed and also serve to glibly show the wearer’s sense of worth or person?

Ever noticed how some ex-religious believers are incredibly bitter toward their former religion? This seems most visible with some ex-Catholics. Well, since brand loyalty seems to develop more strongly when religious loyalty is absent loss of brand loyalty makes people extremely emotional about their former loyalty.

It's just like a bad breakup: People get emotional when they end a relationship with a brand. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research examines what happens when people turn their backs on the brands they once loved.

"Customers who were once enthusiastic about a brand may represent a headache for the associated firm beyond the lost revenue of foregone sales because they sometimes become committed to harming the firm," write authors Allison R. Johnson (University of Western Ontario), Maggie Matear (Queens University, Kingston, Ontario), and Matthew Thomson (University of Western Ontario).

Online forums are overloaded with customer complaints from people who once loved or were loyal to particular brands but now strongly oppose them. "I used to love (name of store), let me tell you all why I plan to never go back there again; I hate them with a passion now," writes one unhappy former customer, for example.

Why do these people feel so strongly about brands they once favored? According to the authors, some people identify so strongly with brands that they become relevant to their identity and self-concept. Thus, when people feel betrayed by brands, they experience shame and insecurity. "As in human relationships, this loss of identity can manifest itself in negative feelings, and subsequent actions may (by design) be unconstructive, malicious, and expressly aimed at hurting the former relationship partner," the authors write. Also, it might be because online reviews are usually highly favorable or highly unfavorable. No one goes on a website to post a comment about having a mediocre experience at a particular shop. “I’ve been indifferent to going there before, so when the time came to go there again, as expected I wasn’t smiling ear to ear, but the products I bought were in relative order and I made it home with minimal pain and suffering. Overall, I probably won’t remember the experience in a week.”

Do you have any strongly felt brand loyalties that might disappoint you? Might want to try some competing products before you become disappointed. Is this a hidden way of saying "Has your old faith failed you, try out some others" - as if religious belief were a cheese of the month club. (This insinuation should bother believers and non-believers alike.) That way your loyalty will weaken before your loss of brand faith. That'll make it easier to move on.

There are a number of very interesting theories regarding the evolution of religious belief. One, advanced by Richard Dawkins is that belief is the byproduct of an evolutionary cognitive module that served to help us cope with problems of survival – these feelings can spread like a mental virus. It doesn’t have to be religious belief. It can be any type of belief, or piece of information.

In general, this type of research seems like it wouldn’t arouse genuine intrigue in most people, it will probably arouse contempt for atheists, even among hypocritically brand loyal believers – how are companies going to use this information? Will we see more ads targeted at non-believers? The answer is more than likely, no – but I guess this remains to be seen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Horrendous Columbus Day article

Below is an opinion article posted on Fox News. My comments are in red and not part of the article.

Let's Take Back Columbus Day

By Thomas A. Bowden

More than a century ago, America celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage of discovery by hosting an enormous world’s fair on the shores of Lake Michigan. This “World’s Columbian Exposition” featured statues of the great explorer, replicas of his three ships, and commemorative stamps and coins. Because Columbus Day was a patriotic holiday--it marked the opening chapter in American history--the newly written Pledge of Allegiance was first recited in schools on October 12, 1892.

Nowadays, however, an embarrassed, guilty silence descends on the nation each Columbus Day. We’ve been taught that Columbus opened the way for rapacious European settlers to unleash a stream of horrors on a virgin continent: slavery, racism, warfare, epidemic, and the cruel oppression of Indians.Because it did.

This modern view of Columbus represents an unjust attack upon both our country and the civilization that made it possible. How is it unjust if it’s the truth and not blown out of proportion? Is evidence against a murderer unjust against the murderer? Western civilization did not originate slavery, racism, warfare, or disease--but with America as its exemplar, that civilization created the antidotes. We still have slavery, racism, warfare and disease. And just because it didn’t originate it, doesn’t mean its immune from criticism – they perpetuated decades old horrors, how is that okay?How? By means of a set of core ideas that set Western civilization apart from all others: reason and individualism.

Throughout history, prior to the birth of Western civilization in ancient Greece, the world seemed impervious to human understanding. People believed that animistic spirits or capricious deities had supernatural powers to cure diseases, grow crops, and guide the hunter’s arrow toward his prey. To get the attention of these inscrutable spirits, people resorted to prayer, ritual, taboo, and human sacrifice, relying always on the mystic insights of shamans and priests. As opposed to monotheists who resort to similar things?

This pervasive mysticism had practical consequences: festering disease, perpetual poverty, and a desperate quest for survival that made offensive warfare against human beings seem as natural as hunting animals. Such was the plight of America’s Indians before 1492--and such was Europe’s own plight, once the civilizations of Greece and Rome had given way to the mysticism of Christianity and the barbarian tribes.

It was Western philosophers, scientists, statesmen, and businessmen who liberated mankind from mysticism’s grip. Eastern philosophy, Taoism in particular, has preached against this stuff long before Western did. Definite case of eurocentricism here. Once scientists revealed a world of natural laws open to human understanding, medical research soon penetrated the mysteries of disease and epidemic, allowing us to look back with pity upon American Indians and other historical victims of diseases now preventable and curable. The same Indians who got smallpox from us?

On a much wider scale, the Industrial Revolution employed science, technology, and engineering to create material goods in profusion, so that even people of average ability could become affluent by historical standards. By demonstrating how wealth can be created in abundance rather than stolen by armed force, America and the West supplied a moral alternative to the bloody tribal warfare of past eras. Except that there was still an armed force taking away wealth – the state.

Western civilization’s stress on the value of reason led inexorably to its distinctive individualism. Western thinkers were first to declare that every individual, no matter what his skin color or ancestry, is fully human, possessed of reason and free will--a being of self-made character who deserves to be judged accordingly, not as a member of a racial or tribal collective. What about the Jains? And thanks to John Locke and the Founding Fathers, individuals were recognized as possessing individual rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness--rights that made slavery indefensible and led to its eradication, at the cost of a civil war. The Founding Fathers owned slaves.

These are the facts we are no longer taught—Says who? and the measure of that educational failure is the disdain with which Columbus’s holiday is regarded in the country that owes its existence to his courage. It is time to take back Columbus Day, as an occasion to publicly rejoice, not in the bloodshed that occurred before Columbus’s arrival and after, but in our commitment to the life-serving values of Western civilization: reason and individualism. We do so by honoring the great explorer who opened the way for that civilization to flourish in the New World and invent iPads


Thomas A. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. Mr. Bowden is a former lawyer and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”


For someone who buys into reason (in the form of Objectivism) hook, line, and sinker, he really missed the boat on these arguments.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Introduction to Poetry - Billy Collins (1988)

I ask them to take a poem

and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Revisting one of my old favorite poems

I just rediscovered this Peter Orlovsky poem I was obsessed with in high school.
Orlovsky was Allen Ginsberg's partner. The spelling of many of the words is technically incorrect, but there is a definite charm about it and some of his contemporaries would say "He doesn't misspell, that's just the way he spells." This reminds me of artist Sean Lander's (sic) book, which I have yet to read.

Here's the poem:


A rainbow comes pouring into my window, I am electrified.

Songs burst from my breast, all my crying stops, mistory fills

the air.

I look for my shues under my bed.

A fat colored woman becomes my mother.

I have no false teeth yet. Suddenly ten children sit on my lap.

I grow a beard in one day.

I drink a hole bottle of wine with my eyes shut.

I draw on paper and I feel I am two again. I want everybody to

talk to me.

I empty the garbage on the tabol.

I invite thousands of bottles into my room, June bugs I call them.

I use the typewritter as my pillow.

A spoon becomes a fork before my eyes.

Bums give all their money to me.

All I need is a mirror for the rest of my life.

My frist five years I lived in chicken coups with not enough


My mother showed her witch face in the night and told stories of

blue beards.

My dreams lifted me right out of my bed.

I dreamt I jumped into the nozzle of a gun to fight it out with a


I met Kafka and he jumped over a building to get away from me.

My body turned into sugar, poured into tea I found the meaning

of life

All I needed was ink to be a black boy.

I walk on the street looking for eyes that will caress my face.

I sang in the elevators believing I was going to heaven.

I got off at the 86th floor, walked down the corridor looking for

fresh butts.

My comes turns into a silver dollar on the bed.

I look out the window and see nobody, I go down to the street,

look up at my window and see nobody.

So I talk to the fire hydrant, asking "Do you have bigger tears

then I do?"

Nobody around, I piss anywhere.

My Gabriel horns, my Gabriel horns: unfold the cheerfulies,

my gay jubilation.

(Nov. 24th, 1957, Paris)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Six Word Stories

Here's a link to the story that inspired the website: http://www.sixwordstories.net/2008/12/for-sale-baby-shoes-never-used-ernest-hemmingway/

After reading some of the stories on this site, I decided to come up with some of my own, just for fun. I'm not saying they're all good, but here are some I've come up with.

I'll start with my favorite, so far: Lost hiker, found in woods. Petrified.

Some others:

It's not you it's me, sure.
Keep hunting. Don't settle. Die alone.
Multiple breakups. Become cat lady. Allergic.
I love you, but me more.
Make plans. No clean underwear. Cancel.
Wake up. Wet dream. Dry existence.
Drink. Drink. Throw up in sink.
Awkward kid, grows up. Fashion model.
For rent: young female, gently used.
A minor. Oblivious. Caught. F major.
Man shoots, criminal. Cop shoots, hero.
Need not apply: Hiring freeze continues.
Invisible friend: insane. Invisible god: faithful.
Illegal search. Republican arrested. Libertarian.
Happy Father's Day. Wait..what...fuck..
He: broke promise. She: broke neck.
Happily married. Weight gained. Recently divorced.

Feel free to add some more!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to incite pugilistic jag-offs

First off, save me the quasi-spiritual advice that arguing with people on the “internets” is a fruitless venture. I know that, but it still passes the time and it amuses me so I don’t really mind. Also, at a certain point, the less dense among you will realize that I switched into pure sarcasm/insult mode. Of course, it went over their heads as I expected. There is no sense in arguing with the senseless. You don’t try to convince a dog why he shouldn’t pee on the carpet with reason. You yell at him, or take him to Cesar Millan, or drive him by a kennel a few dozen times and he finally gets the picture. Since I don’t want to drive these fascist ingrates anywhere, I’m not going to bother, but to repeat, I’m going to make fun of them in the comfort of my own home. Right now, I’m in my oversized Yankees hoodie sitting in bed. I’m quite comfortable, and I’m quite confident that you’ll see how ridiculous these people are/these kinds of arguments were. I don’t put myself past the realm of ridiculousness, I embrace it in all its potential crudeness, so if you try to make me feel ambivalent toward what I said to these clowns, I may just have to give Cesar Millan a call.

Also, no names were withheld because no one was innocent. And this cat doesn't believe in false kindness. :)
So it goes..

Jessica Carolina Blandon: Lohan who? I can't believe the news coverage being given to a spoiled 20-something yr old. Here are a few 20 yr-olds worth knowing about: Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matt Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Chase Stanley 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew King 23,Christopher Goeke 23, & Sheldon Tate 27. These ...brave 20+ gave their lives for you this week. Be grateful!!!! Repost if you support the troops!!

[First off, Lohan is on the news because that's what appears to be on the pulse of most American viewers. As much as you complain about the tacky coverage, it doesn't self-correct, because you buy the magazines and watch the shows. The author of this status is a self-proclaimed conservative. She ought to know this and not regurgitate this paper tiger platitude.]

Kathy Concepcion: They gave their lives for an over funded government department. Not for me.

Jessica Carolina Blandon: Tsk tsk. Think like that all you want.

[No number of 'tsk tsk's in the world can knock me off my high horse, sweetheart. I'm a complete prick. ;)]

Kathy Concepcion I intend to. "Support your troops" is an empty, meaningless statement.

Jessica Carolina Blandon: Hmmm.

A: I disagree with Kathy; I think if people were just in it for the money, they could find another job that doesn't require them being shot at all the time.

Orane Stewart: the ones who supply weapons reap the profits of blood, either side

Kathy Concepcion: Wow, did I say anything in relation to them doing it for the money? Maybe you should read more clearly. I said the soldiers died for the tax-payer funded department that funds a war. "Support your troops" doesn't mean anything - it's a cop-out, vapid phrase used to avoid getting into any meaningful debate about the actions of the soldiers, the legitimacy of the war, and the legitimacy of the authoritative structures that launched the war.

[Orane liked this status, I wish he had contributed more to the dialogue but he just added the one comment and let it go, a shame, because I thought it was a good one.]

A: Well, I mean, I guess it depends who is saying it though, no? I'm sure most people who wear those wristbands and whatnot do wish to support their troops, so is it still empty?

Kathy Concepcion: Yes. The wristbands are an easy way to make money off vapid symbolism.

[You can initially think of who profits from the sale of these wrists bands and obnoxious yellow ribbon stickers. I'm pretty sure it's not the soldiers, just as the families of the insurgents didn't profit from the sale of anti-war stickers. It's pretty simple. But, even if a lot of the money gained from the sale of these trinkets did go to help "support" the troops, that doesn't give the statement any more meaning than, "Hey, I bought this consumer good and some of the money went to some soldiers overseas who volunteered for the job, aren't I a good American."

A: Someone has strong feelings about this. :P Oh well. I like Jessica's status, though. :)

Osviel Hechavarria: Owned lol.

Jessica Carolina Blandon: I don't think this is any "owned" kind of thing. People think the way they want and no one can change it. No big deal

Kathy Concepcion: That sounds like something losers would say. ;) Jk.

Jessica Carolina Blandon: Lmao. Could give a shit, at the end of the day. I feel I'm right to think the way I do and I'm sticking.

Xavier Francisco Flores: Regardless of whoever of you give a shit or not. I thank you for posting this, Jessica. Some people are ignorant to the sacrifice us Soldiers make so that our country's citizens can go to sleep without any fear every night.

Kathy Concepcion: What have the soldiers done about the monsters under my bed?

[I never got an answer to this question, another sleepless night for me. Goddamnit.]

A: Yeah-- I kind of know better than to debate with someone who has strong feelings. XD In Psych you learn it's impossible, especially over a subject like this, since it's very subjective. I know there is truth to her statement, however, I disagree with the premise of "support our troops" being vapid-- regardless of government intent. But I'd rather agree to disagree than start a whole war on facebook. xD

John Lugo I really feel sorry for the people that think backing up the men and women that fight so the people back at home dont have to go there lives with out having to make the choices we do here. you ask any person here and they will all tell you the same thing, im here doing my job to make sure it never comes home. the people that were killed this week gave there lives for everyone at home. I would love for the people that didnt give a fuck to come here and do the things we do. see how much they would say its a cop-out.

[This is unedited, folks.]

Xavier Francisco Flores: Hooah, bro.

[Kicking it into ra-ra-ra Pacino mode. What a hoot!]

John Lugo: its tru man, i really hate motherfuckers that say fuck this and that when they still live in the US. really? if i didnt like something so bad id move the fuck out! I hear Iraq and afghanistan feel the same way about the US, not a bad place to live if thats how you feel. just make sure you bring lots of sunblock and if your on the other side pack warm. it gets pretty cold over there... O another, make sure you look out for IEDs and fuckers with AK47s, other then that its fine =P

Kathy Concepcion: Does it hurt being that illiterate?

[I know, I know, I can hear the groans already. See, I could have explained the very clear fact that complaining about an aspect of the U.S government doesn't mean I hate the people in the U.S so much that I'm planning on moving overseas, but there was no point in trying to explain anything to this moron.]

Xavier Francisco Flores: QFT +1

Xavier Francisco Flores: Illiterate? Seriously? What's with the disrespect? We do this for everyone. My brother does what he does for all of you. Even the ignorant ones.

Kathy Concepcion: What's with the disrespect in his half-retarded rant that advanced no argument whatsoever? It disrespects me to have to read that kind of absurdly hyperbolic macho bullshit. When you get a grasp on elementary English grammar, maybe I'll hear what you have to say about foreign policy. Until then, I'm going to laugh at you in the comfort of my own home.

[This should speak for itself.]

Xavier Francisco Flores: Kathy, I swear, you are probably the most unpatriotic, undeserving, and ignorant American I've ever met. Id love to see you live a day in a soldiers boots who is deployed.

Kathy Concepcion: Thanks for the compliment! :)

Xavier Francisco Flores: I'm so sorry, I forgot to mention heartless.

[Well, shit, how can you forget to mention heartless!?]

John Lugo: she couldnt do it, she loves living her life thinking she is a rock star and on her high horse. keep living your life thinking in the safty of the US, at the end of the day you may think im stupid but whos the stupid one talking shit and still living in a place where she doesnt want to be???

[I don't know what 'safty' is. Sounds like something that may go well with bagels and cream cheese.]

A: Damn. 27 comments. Poor Jessica. Sorry for the rape. XD

Saul Noyola: God forbid there is another terrorist attack in this country, but if there is I hope you kathy are in the general area. Btw my brothers John and Xavier fight for this country so your bitch ass has the freedom to talk shit on facebook about them. I hope you die a horrible slow and agonizing death.

Kathy Concepcion: LMFAO you guys are too much!

Saul Noyola: Oh and btw its people like you that make this country as shitty as it is. I also have more respect for these soldiers who still go and fight knowing there are pieces of shit like you still here!

[And yet, he chose to defend a "shitty" country. It's pretty funny that people like this are so quick to come to the blind defense of the U.S, but then when they encounter people they disagree with, they say people like me exist because the nation has gone to hell in a hand basket. You can't have it both ways, asshole.]

A: Ouch. That's a little too harsh, no?

Kathy Concepcion: Hey buddy, if this country is so "shitty" why don't you GIT OUT! :P

[My sarcasm here will be evident to anyone familiar with South Park.]

Saul Noyola: I'm not the one bitching and moaning like a cow in labor about the government and soldiers. I'm just defending my friends so assholes like you don't make them feel bad for what they do! I'm done with this dumb cunt go die now!

A: Not to sound like a hippie, but just throwing insults at each other and being so aggressive doesn't make you sound any more right. Can't we all just get along? XD

Saul Noyola: I agree!

[Lol! Oh, he agrees! There is hope after all! Oh, except for me, because I've already been told to go die, twice. I feel like a "rockstar" already!]

Frankie Zuazo: Kathy you don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want them out there, you NEED them out there.

Don't sleep soundly under the blanket of security they provide then shit on them for trying to pro...vide it.

Xavier, John....Thanks.

[Aw, a bromance united by a quote from A Few Good Men. How original and heartwarming. "Group hug before we go burn these books!"]

Okay, maybe they don't burn books.. but it seems like their volatile attitude is similar to that of, dare I say it.. "the terrorists."
My goal with this post was more to reflect on the conversation, it wasn't for the reader to pick out who the bigger asshole was, I already self-identify as an asshole in my mind so you don't have to do it for me. Besides, as Kierkegaard said, "Once you label me, you negate me." ;-)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Four 19th century paintings I actually like.

I trust you'll forgive the wack paint copy/paste job.
From the top left:
1. 'Monkeys as Judges of Art' [This is how I feel whenever some schnook who can't spell Picasso tries to say "I can paint that!"] by Gabriel von Max (1889)
2. 'Paris Street; Rainy Day' by Gustave Caillebotte (1877) [One of the only Impressionist paintings I like.]
3. 'Escaping Criticism' by Pere Borrell del Caso (1874)[The title and the technique are great]
4. 'Saturn Devouring His Son' Francisco Goya (1819-1823) [This painting is like the grandpappy of the work of Francis Bacon. Great stuff.]

See, I'm not *exactly* a 20th/21st century snob. ;-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sean Landers, "Why So Panicky?" (2004)

Alex Barry "I Wish I Was Sean Landers"

So much meaning in here.

Kathy's Hip 100 (part 2)

11. Marcel Duchamp – The pseudoephedrine of the art world
12. Rene Magritte- This is not a statement
13. Martin Kippenberger – “no problem”
14. Pepon Osorio – the crime of culture
15. Amedeo Modigliani – long pointy faces
16. Richard Prince –cig ads, no butts about it
17. Romero Britto- poor man’s Warhol+Koons, minus the talent.
18. Roy Lichtenstein– comic book despair
19. Takashi Murakami – cartoony mushrooms and masturbating cowboys
20. Edvard Munch – ambivalent gothic nightmares

My (abridged) version of Davies' The Hip One Hundred' (part 1)

If you're reading this and aren't already familiar with the piece, I encourage you to click the picture and look a bit closer because it's quite brilliant.

Here's the beginning of what may or may not become my own 100 list. I'll edit more as I go along.
For now, a top 10 - this isn't in any particular order of importance - Davies himself would often look back at his piece and bemoan (so to speak) picking one artist above another.

1. Jean-Michel Basquiat – Adonis ghetto prophet
2. Paul McCarthy - ketchup and prosthetic noses
3. John Baldessari – how to form a pithy quote:
4. Sean Landers – ha,ha.ha-
5. Salvador Dali- the biblical story on mescaline
6. Jackson Pollock – the noble savage
7. Tracey Emin- here's my bed, here's my “list”, now piss off .
8. Edward Hopper – Mad Men, after-hours.
9. Tamara de Lempicka – champagne and oysters rockefeller at a Gatsby party
10. Gilbert and George – repressed gay Willy Lomans on acid.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Ratchet Men - An Original One-Act Play

Here's a link to my June 2009 short play, 'The Ratchet Men'

Written by moi,
Directed by Othon Cardelle

Patrick - Ian Vargas
Tom - Marlon Aquino
Voiceover - Othon Cardelle

Filmed by: Rodrigo Gil

Happy viewing :)



of the month isn’t good enough.
We want the flavor of the day.
With variety comes responsibility.
Come on, bitches: Scoop, scoop, scoop!


Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Path

The Path
...to my heart is lined with pipe bombs and rusty shrapnel.
I don’t buy into Hallmark lamentations, don’t bring them here.
You won’t have time to swoon
when you’re dodging the punji sticks that illuminate the way
And like sea turtles attracted by light, you’ll get trampled by a streetcar
only named desire.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Glenn Beck is right about soccer

I don't watch soccer for the same reason I don't watch the Olympics - I think it's a silly excuse for arrogant jingoism filtered through a groggy lens with the help of cheap beer.

I couldn't care less which country beats the other, the sport has never inspired anything in me, except a deep sense of nonchalance.

When Beck says it doesn't matter how many bars are open for the game because Americans just don't like the sport - you know inside that he's right. It might be incredibly popular in the rest of the world, but so is disease and famine, why don't we welcome those things with open arms?

Soccer will probably never be catapulted to the popularity level that baseball, football and even basketball have in the hearts of Americans. Plus, why should it? What is your real agenda? Oh, yeah, Bennetonesque counterfeit multiculturalism.

You can keep it. For the record, I'm not that crazy about NASCAR either.

If you build it - they'll cry foul

A plan to build a mosque and cultural center blocks from Ground Zero was approved on May 25 by a New York City community board in a 29-1-10 vote. The meeting didn’t go off without a hitch – several opponents hollered their disapproval, which included that the plans would equate to “building over a Christian cemetery.”

Mark Williams, a tea party activist, argued that the center would act as a terrorist attack monument, and others argued that the memories of the approximately 3000 individuals who died would be desecrated if this plan were to go through.

Despite the opposition, Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president, stated that the decision to approve the project sent “a clear message that our city is one that promotes diversity and tolerance,” and Bruce Wallace, a man who lost a nephew in the attacks, said the plan would be a chance to “allow moderate Muslims to teach people that not all Muslims are terrorists.”

This is all well and good, but, only days later on June 7, the New York Daily News reported that over 1,000 people turned out to protest the proposed center. These people may think they mean well, never mind the fact that they are just as guilty of hawking a tragedy as the builders and planners they accuse of doing the same.

In its June 21 magazine publication, the National Review advanced the idea that “anyone who is not a provocateur would acknowledge the importance of symbolism and the risk of mixed messages” siding with the protesters that “Imam Rauf should take his mosque elsewhere.”

Now, I like the National Review, but they are flat-out off-base with this sentiment. Mixed messages are never a good reason to thwart or protest anything; there is no guarantee that absolutely everyone will interpret a policy or issue in the same way and there are more than two sides to every story, despite what the man behind the curtain likes to tell you.

In the interest of clarifying the issue, I submit this fair, albeit somewhat dated, example:

Timothy McVeigh was raised and confirmed a Catholic. He was also most likely influenced by the Christian Identity movement which provided the premise for the race war plot in The Turner Diaries, a “day of reckoning” white supremacist book that undoubtedly inspired the Oklahoma City bombing. McVeigh admitted his Catholic upbringing and belief in a higher power in a 1996 interview with Time magazine, following his arrest.

Knowing this, how likely would it have been to have a serious effort to get a Catholic or Christian church built several blocks away from the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building (which now houses the Oklahoma City National Memorial) halted by families of the victims who cry foul over a supposed “monument” to the crime?

In fact, the St. Joseph Old Cathedral, which stands directly across the street from the site and was severely damaged as a result of the 1995 bombing. The church’s ‘And Jesus Wept’ statue, although not officially part of the memorial site, is still incredibly popular with visitors.

“We’re overlooking the enactment of policies that disproportionately affect minority groups – it’s environmental racism” said Muhammed Malik , executive director for the Council on American Islamic Relations in Miami, FL.

“[Opponents] claim to believe in liberty and justice, but are trying to use the power of the state to restrict the liberty of a people to build a building, in turn attacking minorities who don’t have a strong voice in this country,”added Malik.

What opponents have chosen to ignore is that some American Muslim workers and WTC visitors also perished during the 9/11 attacks. Granted, perhaps the number was not in the hundreds, and it may have even been as low as in the mid 20s, but this fact should not be overlooked. Implementing an arbitrary restriction on the building of a structure under the guise of a fallacious appeal to sensitivity, strikes me as smokescreen religious bigotry.

The “us” against “them” mentality should not be a pre-requiste for an informed public debate– in fact, that mentality is the same one the extremists hold.