Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Red Cross Definition Of Torture Fits All

A report out today flatly says that the U.S. government tortured inmates detained in Guantanamo Bay. Among the findings from the Red Cross was that the U.S. instituted a systematic form of psychological torture by:

>>Denying inmates information of their fates
>>Forced them to perform humiliating acts
>>Solitary confinement
>>Subjecting inmates to extreme temperatures
>>Oh, yeah, that little thing about having crazed American soldiers taking homo-erotic pictures of you on top of other inmantes.

The Red Cross also defined the use of torture as:

"If an interrogator knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent even though the defendant did not act in good faith. Instead, a defendant is guilty of torture only if he acts with the express purpose of inflicting server pain or suffering on a person whitin his control."

Hello, Red Cross, have you ever thought to visit my job!

Talk about being in the dark about my fate. I've been doing my former supervisor's job and another including my own, thinking my hard-charging attitude will get me the job. The job was posted last month and I just interviewed for it last week. C'mon, Red Cross! What's my fate? Will I continue to nothing while faking an avalanche of work or while I succeed and continue doing nothing and have little need to conceal it? Oh, yeah, don't forget the perk of extra-long lunches, too.

Humiliating acts? How about sitting in the lunch room across from an old lady who feels the need to "air herself out", you know, sit in manner more befitting a man wearing jeans not a septangenerian wearing a dress. Red Cross, help me out! How do I eat my sandwich without noticing a clear shot down Broadway, mind you; a very gentrified Main Street.

Solitary confinement, well, drop that one, Red Cross. I never stay in my office long enough for it to count as confinement. The longest time I'm in solitary confinement at the workplace is when I bring the front page of the New York Times into the restroom.

Temperature changes? I work in a 98-year-old building in San Francisco. The beast withstood two major earthquakes in its history. Because it was well built, right? No, because it's actually an eight-story ice cube. I've probably spent my entire years salary just on the electric bill due to my desk heater running eight hours a day on its highest setting. It's not pretty working with a bunch of old ladies in frigid conditions. Instead of thinking, "Hey, it must be cold. Hey, did you drop some Skittles down you shirt?" Here, it's more like, "Hey, old woman, did you drop your entire container of prescription drugs down your blouse?"

Monday, November 29, 2004

I'm Getting Old

Down the decades every year
Summer leaves and my birthday's here
And all my friends stand up and cheer
And say man you're old
Getting old

--lyrics from "Old" by Paul Simon.

I've learned only one thing since I turned 30; being old isn't about how you feel but how you view the world. It takes years to amass a certain degree of knowledge and usually the only people who can comprehend the scope of your wisdom is another equally old person.

Yesterday, we threw a surprise 75th birthday for grandmother. She's as lively and spry as I've remembered her all my life. It was some of her friends that I had grown up listening to and joking with that suddenly seemed so old. It was the men, namely, who didn't seem to be aging as gracely as their wives. Granted, these people are in their late 60s and 70s now so they were already "old and gray" when I was, say, 10. It saddened me to see some of them beginning to slow down.

On the way to the party, I teased my grandmother that Portuguese people are lazy. She laughed and said, "Oh, you sound like Camara". Apparently, my grandmother's friend, who is also Portuguese claims that our people are the most inefficient workers in Europe.

Growing up, I always thought Camara was his first name. Actually, his name is Manuel. Camara is his last name. Since I was very young, I always loved talking to Camara. He always took the time to ask me about school, the A's or whatever was going on in the world. He seemed to have such of rich memory of how things you use to be. What factory use be there and what restaurant use to be here. Facts that only come with experience and not from a textbook. I think I'm beginning to gain some of that experience.

It came to me, not as anything important, but from baseball. The ballot for next years baseball Hall of Fame was released today and I can clearly recall every single ballplayers' career in my mind. I'm getting old.

When I was 12, I thought Wade Boggs was immortal. It was superhuman to me, at that age, that Boggs rarely swung and missed let alone never struck out. I use to imitate Don Mattingly's crouched stance and quick stroke many times in Little League games.

I sat in the bleachers at the Coliseum many times in the summer of 1986 watching a rookie catcher named Terry Steinbach become a staple of pennant-winning A's teams. Tony Phillips even lived in Castro Valley for a time before he became one of the most versatile players of his era.

I use to have a Steve Garvey poster in my room for years. I watched pitchers that specialized in one wicked pitch like Burt Blyleven with his curveball and Tom Candiotti with his knuckleball. Willie McGee was one of the best slap hitters of the 80s, if not, one of the goofiest-looking athletes in both his physique and facial features.

Before there was baseball on the tube every night, there was either the A's, Giants or the Braves on cable. I watched Dale Murphy nearly everyday in the summer. Watched him win two MVP's and still wonder if he was really that good. Jim Rice seemed so angry and still and struckout a lot.

I'm getting old. Soon I'm going to be like Camara telling Sean and Luke about how some new amusement park in Fremont use to be the NUMMI auto plant or how the Uncle Richard use to take me to the Coliseum on Hegenberger instead of the new park in Santa Clara. I also repeat myself now and then.

After my grandmother finished opening her presents I overheard Camara in a huddle of his friends say, "You know the Portuguese are the laziest people. I'll get you the article the next time I see you."

Friday, November 19, 2004

Athletes Should Know Better


My heart is still racing from tonight's Pacers-Pistons game. A bar-room brawl between players and fans broke out with less than a minute to play in Detroit.

With the Pistons down by 15, Detroit's Ben Wallace took offense to a hard foul from Indiana's Ron Artest. Wallace simultaneously choked and shoved Artest towards the sideline. Pushing and shoving ensued as Artest lie on the scorers table. Just as the game officials nearly had order restored, a fan approached Artest and poured liquid on him.

Artest, of course, trying to emulate his newfound gangster rap persona, quickly charged into the stands at the Palace of Auburn HIlls. Several other Pacers joined Artest as punches and more liquids were thrown. One unidentified Pacer is seen bing pummelled by a large, haymaker-throwing fan.

As the Pacers left the court, numerous fans were seen pouring large quantities of beer and cola on the players as the players ran under the stands to the locker room. The question is this: Why did so many Pistons' fans have so much beer and cola left in their cups with one-minute to play?

This was easily the most horrific and bizarre sight that I have ever seen watching sports. On many instances, the scenes on the television seemed surreal, as if you were about to witness someone either killed or severely hurt live on your screen. Now America can talk about a problems in sports and society more riveting and plausible than last Monday's Monday Night Football female bareback.

Coupled with the somewhat similar fight that occurred at the Coliseum last season when the Texas Rangers' reliever Frank Francisco hit a woman in the stands, there needs to be a dialogue over who's to blame for these actions.

ESPN's studio team covering the NBA will apparently be no help in this discussion. After the fight, anchor John Saunders, Stephen A. Smith and former players, Greg Anthony and Tim Legler quickly sided with the players. Of course, do you think these players have no lingering animosity towards fans who yelled, cursed or booed them throughout their careers?

Saunders even threw professionalism to the wind when he said, "These fans are a bunch of punks." The stodgy ESPN crew entirely blamed the so-called "cowardly" fans who threw debris at the players.

Does all the fault really belong to the fans?

The offending Pacers that raced into the stands looked like the same street criminals that I could have seen running around East Oakland. The only difference is that these guys are million dollar gangsters, driving the same Escalade and sporting the same gaudy gold jewelry and possessing the same lack of intelligence that any high-profile drug dealer might have.

ESPN claims that Artest was calm and innocently lying on the scorers table while the refs sorted everything out. To me, it looked like he was scared and choose to act in a petulant manner as if to say, "No worry." He was just showing the same cocky attitude that led him to ask for a break from basketball to promote his new rap CD.

Professional athletes, are, of course, far from street thugs or gangsters. They possess extraordinary skills that have been honed throught hard work sprinkled with a bit of God-given talent. Few people can do what they do, thus they are paid huge amounts of money for their scarce talents. Children look up to these men, though. They are meant to be pillars of their community. Their importance to a region cannot be quantified. What value does the fact that someone like Joe Montana is so identified with the Bay Area or Cal Ripken, Jr. is to the Baltimore area?

Fans pay for these guys salary for godsake! Should the Pacers just sit there and let the fans abuse them? Unless some bodily harm is exacted, yes. Ron Artest should have known better, but, of course, as we've seen with his antics and stupid comments, he's shown no evidence that he's capable of acting like anything near a good citizen or even someone that should be released from his straight jacket.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Lum Lum

Ever wonder what people are really thinking in their little minds? Last Monday, I was thinking, "Lady! I hardly know you!" And other times, do you ever wonder what the hell people are saying out loud?

I went for my first manicure and pedicure last Monday. Two words to describe it (or multiples of two for added emphasis): Sooo Gooood, Sooo Goood, Sooo Goood.

Man, I'm telling you, who lives their life to cut somebody else's toe nails and give hand massagies?

The establishment, located on Grand Avenue was actually pretty nice. Fairly new vibrating chair connected to small water basin with water jets at the base. Two Vietnamese woman, one short and stubby took her place at my feet while a more seasoned, thin woman worked on my fingernails.

The woman at my feet had this excited manner that led me to believe she was happy to be touching a young man's feet instead of the feet of some old, broken-down Piedmont wannabe socialite. The other woman gave me the impression that she also specialized in "extra service", as in, "Do you want extra service? Put it on yo' credy card."

At one point, she put lotion on my hand and wrist and began quickly, I mean, very quickly, stroking my fingers. I didn't turn me on, so much as made me wonder, "she could probably charge a lot for extra service."

It's funny when you go to these nail places and hair salons, the Asian workers seem to have nothing to say until they start cutting your hair or filing your nails. The joint was dead silent until we walked in and the four women jumped to their feet. Suddenly, it was as if Jackie Chan just walked in.

What are they saying? Are they talking about us? Their cackling throaty-sounding language reverberated off the tacky poster resembling Chinese landscapes on black suede.

"bang glan glum, glam, lum, lum, lum, lum!"

In fact, the word or phrase, "lum, lum" seemed to be uttered numerous times.

Were they talking about my ass? Where they commenting on my impressive fingernails?

For instance, "Lookie, at this man's sweet ass!"

"Lum, lum", as in "yes, yes!"

I must say that I do know know some Vietnamese. "Dien kum" is "Are you crazy?" "Dun la" is "Don't worry about it" and "Ko gai dep" is "pretty girl".

So I went to work the next day to learn what "lum, lum" might be. Tuyet and Hoang are a Vietnamese couple that work with me at the Bank. Tuyet is the one who taught me some of these little sayings that I can easily mix with English sentences. She's on jury duty this week. Unfortunately, I asked her husband to translate.

Once I asked him what "dun la" meant.

He said what? "Dun la?"

Yeah, "Dun la".

Oh, "dun laaaa", that means "don't worry about it."

I said, "Are you kidding me, man? That's what I just said."

"No, you said 'dun la'"

"I know, you said 'dun la', too."

"No, I said 'dun laaaa'."


Anyway, "lum lum" means "pick it up".

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Lunatic Of The Week-Michael Phelps

He's All Ears
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
[Ed. Note: I began writing about this week's Lunatic of the Week before the news of Indiana Pacers' forward Ron Artest. A few days ago Artest announced he needed a few days off from basketball because he was exhausted from recording a rap album. No doubt he would have received the prestigious Golden Straight Jacket instead of Ears McGee over here.]

You might remember U.S. Olympian, Michael Phelps, when he was the wholesome teenager winning seven gold medals at the Athens Games.

The 19 year old, big-earred, swimmer was arrested Nov. 4 for drunken-driving and he's sorry about.

That is, his sponsors that pay him millions of dollars, are sorry; actually scared stiff that their investment in this golden boy may sink.

The point isn't that he was driving drunk or even that he was drinking heavily while underaged, but don't parade yourself around for a halftime show at a NFL game and then huddle around some kids a few days later to regret your indiscretion.

Just a few days after the arrest, Phelps appeared at halftime of a Baltimore Ravens game. Boy, did he look like he was having a blast decked out in the same jersey that fellow criminals, Ray Lewis and Jamal Lewis, also wear.

Apparently, his sponsors, namely Visa, PowerBar and Speedo scrambled for some way to protect their investment. Bring in the kids!

Phelps showed up at a local Boys & Girls Club in to tell the 10-year old kids that they shouldn't drink and drive.

Said Phelps: "Going up there and talking about the mistake, it was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done. ... It was extremely hard to stand in front of kids who I let down, who looked up to me."

17-year old Kerri Taylor said "You could feel his emotion and his sincerity. It wasn't just a front. ... You could see that he regretted it so much."

Yeah, I bet he does. Especially when the credit card and ass floss-like aquatic apparel companies ditch him for another Dumbo-looking albatross.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Blame This Man And Then Yourself

Gavin Newsom
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Is it fair to blame Gavin Newsom for John Kerry's defeat last week? Yes, it is.

Let me begin by saying that I believe San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom to be one of the most courageous and progressive politicians in this country. I also believe that his decision to bring the conversation of gay marriage to America's consciousness to be appropriate and even just.

It was the right thing to do but it cost us this election and that is the dilemma that liberals will have to face in the next four years. How can we win over an electorate that is so morally bankrupt and still uphold the basic tenets of progressive liberalism?

The faces of Americans in red states from Montana to Alabama blushed an uncomfortable shade of pink and then crimson red from anger seeing streams of gays and lesbian couples getting hitched on their television sets.

Do we sell our souls out to win the White House? As a liberal, the inclusion of all Americans is something I hold dear. The electorate has spoken and votes cast indicate homophobia and the denial of civil rights to a group of people is what they want.

Can we come up with a candidate who can sweep the issue into the closet much like Kerry did with the gun issue or be doomed to another four years absent the executive branch? Of course, so much can happen from now to 2008. Who could have imagined George W. Bush's political strength in 2004 would have been unwaverng leadership when he defeated Al Gore?

I firmly believe that, just as today, many find it unbelievable that blacks were forced to drink from separate drinking fountains and sit in the back of the bus as late as the 1960's. A generation from now, people will find it hard to fathom that gay rights were overwhelmingly discounted by so many in 2004.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Birthday Wishes To Jay Tray

Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Happy Birthday, bro. Did you think I would forget? Of course not, my birthday is too close to be so forgetful.

Anyway, here's my salute to you:

By defintion, one's birthday is the single day when everyone should dote over you, buy you dinner and bring you gifts. I'm sure you've enjoyed all of these things, but since everything has been about you today, let's talk about me!

John Deere presents "Great Moments in Jason's Life":

The year was 1991 and as the fall season was quickly turning the early evening breeze into a cold chill there stood on a field of dreams Jason and I.

Jason, like a modern-day Babe Ruth--well, maybe his sister--smacked fly balls to me in left field. Most were catchable, lazy flyballs, except for one majestic blast that would live in the memories of sports fans forever.

As if in slow motion, Jason soft-tossed the baseball in front of him. Pulled his hands back and stepped forward into the ball while pivoting his hips with such ferocious torque that I was sure he had torn some sort of reproductive organ.

The ball jumped off his bat with a high and regal arc that led everyone to be believe it was gone.

I quickly read the trajectory of the ball and raced towards the fence. As I reached the dirt warning track, I stuck my right hand out to estimate how close I was to the chain-link fence.

To my surprise, the ball must have been batted down by the wind because it was just about a foot over the fence. I leapt and intercepted the ball just as it passed over the fence. I stole a homerun from Jason.

After that day, Jason's Dad took to kicking him instead of their dog. The constant snickering and repeated replays on SportsCenter forced Jason to relocate to New Mexico for most of the 90's before returning to California a few years back. It wasn't until I "let" him beat me seven straight games in billiards that our friendship was rekindled.

The accompanied picture comes the annual recreation of "The Catch" that the Castro Valley Chamber of Commerce holds every year.

Happy Birthday, Jason.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

So Far No Ohioans Have Voted For Buchanan

Payback is a...well, you know.

In Ohio, the Kerry campaign seems bent on not repeating any mistakes that Gore made four years ago in Florida. Kerry seems prepared to make all the legal challenges as quickly as possible. He definitely will not concede this race for days and a state-wide recount seems likely.

The race now is for Bush to be able to claim victory before the clock runs out like he successfully achieved in 2000. The perception of victory will easily grease the path to another term.

At this point, Bush cannot really claim victory without winning another state. With a disputed Ohio he has 269 electoral votes. If other battleground states like New Mexico and Iowa are too close to call, might the Kerry team use litigation to stymie any offical call to Bush's column?

Demos Make Ohio Secy. of State Their Biatch

Do you think the Democrats are putting the screws to the Ohio Secretary of State, Nate Blackwell? I saw him on CNN saying there were over 250,000 provisional ballots to be counted in the Buckeye state.

ABC Radio reported that Blackwell revised the number to around 72,000. At a press conference just a half hour ago, he said that he didn't know how many were still outstanding but assured everyone that, in essence, that Ohio will not be another Florida.

What Happened?

What happened to the youth vote and what happened to the war on terror being on the electorate's mind? These are two things that are unacceptable.

As I think about it, most of the 18-29 year olds that I know sit around and play video games all day. What was I thinking? Obviously the threat of conscription was not worth standing in line for an hour.

So much for this election being a referendum on the war in Iraq. Incredibly, exit polls are ranking morality over the economy and terrorism. This, if stands, will be my rallying point for the next four years. I can accept almost any argument in favor of voting for Bush or any Republican, but do not tell me Bush's perceived morality, bigotry towards homosexuals and whether a woman deserves the right to control her own body trumps whether we can lead the world or guarantee a safe and healthy life for our citizens.

I must tell you all that I'm not angry or really disappointed over the possible loss in this election. This is one of those times when everything seems very clear to me. Things are not right and I'm one of the few who need to fix it. Give me twenty years and I'll do it.

Columnist Tells the Truth; Then Quits

What a way to go. Newsday’s longtime columnist, the irascible Jimmy Breslin, apparently wrote his last column today. It was titled, "I'm right -- again. So I quit. Beautiful."

After twenty years writing columns for three New York papers, Breslin seems to be the only person other than the LFR predicting an easy victory today.

Here’s are some of Breslin’s last shots:

The reporters said the nation was divided. They were afraid to say anything that might upset this view. You've been had by the news industry. Not once, even after the first debate when Kerry scored a technical knockout, did they take a step and call it as it happened.

Breslin also took a heavy shot at the exclusion of cell phone user (young people) in the polling methodologies.

So you were getting CBS/New York Times polls proclaimed as most important and real. One hundred seventy million cell phones and you don't poll one of them. The polls they are pushing at you in the news magazines, on the networks, in the big papers, are such cheap, meaningless, blatant lies, that some of these television stations should have their licenses challenged.

Remember, Breslin knows a thing about losers (Bush). He famously covered the 1962 New York Mets expansion baseball team that is widely regarded as the worst team ever.

Monday, November 01, 2004

What To Look For on Election Day

THE STORYLINE: Election 2004 will be remembered as the year when the not only younger people revived their interests in the issues but also first time voters. A mandate will be reached for Sen. John Kerry because of this group. This election was always a referendum on the war in Iraq and America found the wisdom to separate its folly from their fears of terrorism.

TURNOUT HIGH: High turnout always helps the Democrats and an 8-10% increase in voter participation would go far in tipping the election to Kerry. Many pundits have wondered if the new voters will actually show up to the polls. The question has already been answered if you look at the high early voting turnout. It is estimated that already 1 in 5 ballots have already been cast. If you look at Florida where I believe the enthusiam and anger over the 2000 election has been ignored by many pollsters.

END OF THE POLLING FIRMS: Could this be the end of how polling companies perform their craft? All the polls have failed to account for the new voters in their calculations. When the Zogby polling firm finally accounted for younger voters with cell phones, the verdict was overwhelmingly in Kerry's favor, 55-40. These numbers are eerily similar to the numbers that voters 18-30 are showing. Among other reasons, this is how Kerry will gain a mandate tomorrow with over 51% of the electorate.

YOUR VOTE STILL COUNTS IN CALI: "Your vote doesn't matter," says many in California. This line of thought is straight out of the state's Republican party. In reality, your vote is very important in gaining your candidate a mandate in the popular vote. Without over 50% of the vote, a candidate shouldn't be able to claim the masses approved of his plans in the next four years. Bush failed to win a mandate or even the popular vote yet his adminstration acted like it for four years.

BUSH STUCK AT 48%: At this stage of the game an incumbent's final numbers usually indicate his final numbers on election day. In most polls today, 48% is the highest figure that Bush garnered. With turnout high and saturated with Democrats this number may even be inflated.

KERRY WINS BIG 3: It was said that 2 of 3 states including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida will be enough to win the White House. Pennsylvania is definitely in Kerry's column. Florida will be Jeb Bush-proof because of high turnout and the fact that the Bush adminstrations hand picked Cuban-American candidate for Senator is in a gunfight with a lesser known candidate, Betty Castor. Possible shenanigans will evolve from Ohio; notably Cleveland, but it also will go Democratic by nights end. Because Ohio does not identify between party affiliations, it is hard to know who has the upper hand. We do know that Ohio has lost many jobs and registeration has gone through the roof. Again, high turnout and high registration typically shows a "throw the bums out" attitude from the electorate.

ARKANSAS TRAVELER: Of all the southern states, Arkansas is the only one with any sort of Democratic party. Polls last week showed it tightening up and the DNC sent Bill Clinton there yesterday. Bush strategist, Karl Rove mentioned in the NY Times Monday that he purposely baited the Kerry team down to Arkansas to spend some money and time. HA HA! Did he really or might this be the first big story of election day. Election guarantee: If at 4pm pacific time, the polls begin to highlight a possible upset in Arkansas; pop the champagne bottles.

BAD NEWS FOR DEMOS: Despite problems with the Native American population in South Dakota, Republican John Thune will upset Senate Minority leader, Tom Daschle. The Democrats will not take over the Senate, either. Who will be the next minority leader? Word is Sen. Harry Reid of nearby Nevada will be picked. Known as a moderate in the Senate, Reid probably won't be much better than the lackadaisical Daschle.

Kerry To Win 304-234

America this is how I believe the election will shakedown tomorrow:

CA 55, OR 7, WA 11, NM 5, HI 4, MN 10, WI 10, MI 17, IL 21, OH 20, PA 21, NY 31, NJ 15, VT 3, NH 4, MA 12, RI 4, CT 7, DE 3, MD 10, DC 3, FL 27 >>>>Total 304.

NV 5, AZ 10, ID 4, UT 5, CO 9, TX 34, WY 3, MT 3, ND 3, SD 3, NE 5, KS 6, OK 7, LA 9, AR 6, MO 11, IA 7, IN 11, KY 8, TN 11, MS 6, AL 9, GA 15, SC 8, NC 15, WV 5, VA 13>>>>Total 234.

Popular Vote:
BUSH 47%