Saturday, January 31, 2009

Heard on NPR: Blago, No Unemployment For You!

Many of us heard on TV or radio or read in the newspaper or blogs how the Former Illinois Governor Blagojevich likes to compare himself to all sorts of famous people. "Famous" not "Infamous", that's the operative word here. Anyway, he's compared himself to Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he's compared his own surprise arrest by the Feds to the Pearl Harbor. One wonders: when is he going to compare himself to Jesus Christ? If you are talking about persecution, how can you forget about the story of Jesus Christ? After his impeachment was passed 59 to 0, he came home from his media tour in NYC, stood outside of his house, out of work, and compared himself to the "tens of thousands of people all across America, just like me who are losing there jobs or lost their jobs."

I am sure I was not the only one that wondered upon hearing this, Are we going to see him lining up in the unemployment office now? And, is being impeached, the same as being fired? Which would disqualify a person from receiving any unemployment checks. Being impeached is like getting fired in public, with millions of people watching your boss slapping down that pink slip on your desk and the company security guards escorting you out of the door. Right?

Thank goodness that NPR delivered the good news that eased my mind: No, you will not see Blago in the unemployment office any time soon, he is not eligible. But not because he is impeached (or fired), but because "Elected officials throughout Illinois, the wages that they earn in those capacities do not count towards unemployment insurance. [They] don't put money into the unemployment system, so they don't qualify benefits."

Note to self: Do not run for public offices and expect to collect unemployment checks. And if elected, try and not get fired.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Joe the Plumber's Book is out... Out of Stock already?

A friend of mine recently paid more than a month of her salary for a plumber's visit. I commented on her Facebook page, jokingly: Is it Joe the Plumber?

This reminds me that, well, Joe is probably not doing house calls any more, since he is supposed to be living off the sales of his book, right? I completely forgot about it and decided to Google "Joe Plumber Book". I could not find a single result with an announcement with the book being published, rather I got tons of blog entries about the announcement of the book "deal" last November. Fear not. came to the rescue after I wised up and added "Amazon" to my search keywords. For sure, it showed up on the top of the results:


Is anybody surprised by "American Dream" being in the book title?

And the publishing date is listed as February 6, 2009, but the book is listed as Out of Stock already. Lots of people apparently want to know what Joe has learned from his 15-minute of fame. (Or, has he?)

Granted, I have not read the book. Free, maybe. Definitely do not plan to shell out any dough for this book. Sorry, Joe. Please don't take it personal. It's just that all my hard-earned money apparently is going to pay for the bonuses for the Wallstreet Hotshots!

Judging from the reviews though, it is a pretty one-sided book. As a matter of fact, folks expect it to be one-sided, so that Liberals/Democrats will rate the book 1 or less star, and Conservatives/Republicans will give the man some credits for "telling it like it is," no matter whether the reviewer has actually read the book or not. My prediction? Reviews and ensuing verbal fights on will be more entertaining than the book itself. (Don't forget to read the comments on the reviews too! Got to love the Internet!)

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mr. President Obama TXT me today!

and thousands of others... 
No matter.  I feel special and am as happy as a clam. 

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The crowd at Inauguration yesterday as seen from space

The crowd at Inauguration yesterday as seen from space


This picture (and many others) was taken by GeoEye, the giant eye-in-the-sky satellite imagine system sponsored by Google and the military.

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Obama is in Da House! Day One: Capping pay for White House employees and banning gifts...

Those who are affected, i.e. those whose salaries are more than 100K a year, are probably not too happy about this, but we are thrilled to hear that the man seeks immediately to rule by example.

"All of you are committed to building a more responsible government... Families are tightening their belts and so should Washington," said President Obama to his staff.

The president also signed new executive orders to implement new ethics rules to ban lobbying by current staff after they leave the administration, including a ban on gifts!

Say that again? I cannot believe this. Amen to that!!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank GOD for the Onion: so the Republicans can have their laughs too...

or anybody who may get a bit tired of all the serious and sentimental coverage on the Presidential Inauguration...

Here is the Election Coverage from the Onion... "Joe Biden Shows Up To Inauguration With Ponytail": great for macho men on the verge of their tears to immediately change the mood and the topic!

With titilating headlines that could potentially be true in an alternative world, such as "Hillary Clinton Mouthing Along To Presidential Oath", "Joe Biden Shows Up To Inauguration With Ponytail" and "Obama Inauguration Speech Ruined By Incessant Jackhammering", The Onion's coverage is almost as entertaining as the real thing!

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Our President Obama's Inaugural Speech: simple, sincere, straightfoward. We've got a lot of hard choices to make and hard work to do!

I am back on! (I do suffer from bi-polar disorder so I was probably in a funk earlier today...) But no matter. Here is the 44th U.S. President, Barack Obama's inaugural speech. It reminded me why I was captivated by this man the first time I heard him speak on TV, and why I believed that voting for him was the absolutely right thing to do.

Now let's roll up the sleeves and get to work! (I guess we will have to wait until the revelry is done... and remember, PLEASE do more than what P. Diddy pledged to do: turning off lights when he leaves the room... )

Guess what? Fox News gave this speech thumbs down. So it must have been darn brilliant!

"My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

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"It's an Obamanation!" musings on commercialism hitching a ride to the Obama Fever by writer

Sarah Hepola, thank you! Her humourous, yet sobering, look into the world of Obama-fever merchandising begins thus,

"The other day, curious how far the Obama madness had spread, I Googled the words 'Obama sex toy.' God bless America: I was not disappointed..."

Go straight to the slide show of some of the choice merchandise being sold if you want some visual evidence on why so glum, or if you just want some good old laugh over "Oh, only in America!" while shaking your head...

As for me, I cannot decide whether to laugh or cry.

It is 6:05 AM. When does the broadcast of the Inauguration start?

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Today is the day: Inaugration of President Obama, yet, I am not feeling the fever. What's wrong with me?

I am a liberal alright and a staunch Obama supporter. In fact, I am proud of the fact that I "called it" in 2004 before Obama gave that fateful speech at the Democratic Convention that launched him into the national spotlight. (And what's more, he wrote it himself!) I called it even before that: I saw him on TV being interviewed for something, and I told my husband, this guy could run for the president one day and I would vote for him. After the 2004 Dem Convention speech, I was utterly convinced that he has what it takes to be the POTUS and I anxiously waited for someone, someone that mattered to make this official.

I still tell my husband, "I called it before anybody else did!" from time to time, and it annoys him to no end since, of course, it cannot be true that I was the very first one to see this coming...

I was guessing 2012, but it came 4 years earlier to my excitement. At the same time, I was worried that the timing was off, and the country might not be ready for someone so young, and this might ruin his chance forever. (Not ready NOT because he's black but because he is young, relatively "inexperience" - I already predicted that the country would be ready for an African American man to lead them before a woman... but that's for an entire different post later)

During the election, I constantly had panic attacks that we were going to lose again, and be under the GOP thumb for another 4 years. I joked, "kidding on the square", with my husband that we should consider moving to Canada, as we did 4 years ago when Bush won again. On November 4, 2008, I was so happy that my worry was unfounded. He won. WE won!

I admire Obama very much and would like nothing more than the opportunity of speaking to him in person, or even just shaking his hand, like the rest of the nation, judging by the blogs, Facebook updates, Twitter followings, even the news media that lavish praise after praise upon him. He has made so many speeches that brought tears to my eyes. He is able to get in touch with many on a very personal level. I have posted tribute to him myself as well.

I admire Michelle Obama as well, on so many different levels, esp. her being an intelligent person, and a working mother to boot. Like her husband, many have responded to her on a very personal level as well. They are truly an inspiration to the "regular" Americans since as far as I can tell, they have absolutely no ties to any big political names, not the nephew or niece of so-and-so. And for African American women, her being the First Lady has begun to carry so many symbolic meanings, and many of them have been materialized in the new book Go Tell Michelle.

Oh, I have felt the fever alright. During the election.

But I woke up early this morning, at 2:46 am to be exact, feeling a panic attack, because I am not feeling the excitement that the news media has shown us, the screaming fans and all. Don't get me wrong, I am happy. But it feels like, all of a sudden, at a party where everybody is screaming and laughing and drunk with youthful abandon, and well, partying, I am standing in the midst of all this, sober.

I can understand the significance of this event for many people, a significance much much deeper than the face value of a Presidential Inauguration - He IS the first African American to be elected the President of the United States. I cannot begin to imagine the significance of this event on the psyche of African Americans. This is truly a watershed moment that can potentially change the lives of so many, not just in the US, but around the world. The policies he will make, the changes he will carry out (or at least try his darnedest), the wrongs that he will correct (starting with banning waterboarding outright!), the people that he, as the first Black U.S. President, and Michelle, as the first Black First Lady, will inspire, again, not just in this country but all around the world.

But I am not feeling the screaming fan blind adoration bestowed on him as if he were a rock star or a movie star chosen as Sexist Man Alive. Maybe that's my problem. This man has a wife, and two young daughters. And he is going to be OUR President for the next four years. To be honest, I am not cool with screaming female fans treating him like some sort of sex symbol. (Call me a prude... I am never one to fall for a celebrity so maybe that's why I am such a party pooper at this moment). Calling him Obama-daddy trivialized the election of an intelligent capable man who just wants to do the right thing and inspire others to do the same. Selling thongs with his image on it and words "Sleep with Obama" is disrespectful to his wife, not to mention anything else.

Yes, I do have a sense of humor. I found the Obama Girl funny, during the election. But now we have reached our goal and elected the man, hmmm, don't you think it is time to let it go? Last time I checked, this here is the United States, not France....

There lies my problem: I am not seeing him as a celebrity, commanding my unquestioned adoration.

This man is human. He is not Superman.

It is 4:30 am, on the day of the historical Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama who I voted for and wanted for president since before 2004, I am completely sober, much to my liberal chagrin, in the midst of youthful obsession that turns anyone into a Hollywood-style "celebrity".

My cure? Psyching myself up by shopping for the commemorative items on the official PIC2009 website. Get them before they are gone! If I am not feeling the party, at least I can fake it!

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Bush commutes sentences of 2 Border Patrols - Finally, after 8 years, W did something that I approved of...

I am sure a lot of my liberal friends are going to treat me like a traitor for saying this, but I am glad that the two men, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, will be out of jail in March, without having to serve the 11-year and 12-year sentences that they were given. There are already a lot of outcry and celebration in the blogsphere: On the Huffington Post, most of the comments expressed outrage at this "anti-immigrant" gesture, and conversely, on the "white supremacy" or self-proclaimed "red-state-leaning" oriented blogs (I am not going to provide links here, just google on your own and you will see...) , this act was celebrated as confirmation that white people won.  Eh, first of all, I believe that Mr. Ramos is not white...
I heard of this story last year when my husband got a hold of the wonderful book series "The Best American Writing" for the year 2008 (which by the way is a series worth looking forward to every year, making Christmas all the much better for grown-ups!), and inside The Best American Crime Reporting 2008 , is an extensively researched and well-written article by Pamela Colloff, published in the September 2007 issue of Texas Monthly.  Here is the reprint found on the US Attorney website.  Read this before you make any judgement! 
It is hard not to feel bad for the two men once finishing reading the entire article.  The point, in my mind, is not whether they have shot an unarmed-man while he was running away, in the dark, but rather, the fairness in the sentencing of the two men for longer than a decade on the excuse of their violating bureaucratic procedures.  Anybody that is arguing the merit (or demerit) of the commutation of sentence from the perspective of immigration, whether pro- or anti-, is not looking at this issue rationally. 
And how many people that are now outraged simply by the sensational headlines or out-of-context comments such as the one posted on by Alex Koppelman:  
"Bush commutes sentences of former Border Patrol agents - Anti-immigration forces won a partial victory Monday, as President Bush commuted the prison sentences of two of their heroes..." 
Alex Koppelman published a long article on in January 2007 on this case as well which I was not aware of until just now.  He has a completely different take on this case: as a deliberate cover-up by the right wing and a transformation of criminals into folk heroes.  Guess I need to withhold my own judgement now too before I can make up my mind on this... 
Why is life so complicated? 

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

"You are not going to heaven because you are a bad mommy." Religion? Yikes!

This was not said in a huff or a tantrum. This was said matter-of-factly, more an observation than an accusation. A conclusion drawn by my 6-year-old because, well, he has noticed that we do not go to church on a regular basis. We are not particularly religious although both of our boys were baptized in the Catholic church. We are obviously not regular church-going folks. I am not even Christian. We simply do not talk about god at home. I wonder where he got all these ideas about god, Jesus, and heaven. The other day he asked me whether I am one of God's children, and I told him, no, out of honesty. Later I explained to him that not everybody believes in god, and heaven, and not everybody believes in the same god as he does. and therefore not everybody is going to heaven. In fact, "You and daddy and your brother are going to heaven when you die, but mommy will not be there... Mommy believes in reincarnation."

(Maybe I should have lied? This would have been one of those times when a white lie is harmless and maybe even beneficial?)

Fortunately, at this age, they do have the attention span of the fly, so he was quickly distracted by some other mysteries in life. Crisis diverted. For now.

Note to self: research books on "How to talk to your kids about religion if yours is a multi-faith family"... Yikes! Who says parenting gets easier as they get older?!

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The London Beer Flood of 1814

After I learned about the Boston Molasses Flood of 1919, I quickly got wind of a rival event that happened more than a century before the Bostonian food disaster: the London Beer Flood.

In short, on October 14, 1814, heavy metal hoops that held a larger vat broke and ignited a chain reaction that smashed the other surrounding vats. In total, 1,224,000 litres of beer under pressure exploded through the twenty-five foot high brick wall of a London brewery and literally flooded the crowded area nearby. Two houses were destroyed in its path and nine people lost their lives because of the unusual flood.

Although the death toll was not as high as the Boston Molasses Flood a hundred years later, there were several fascinating details that if reenacted in the movie today, would have been accused as sensationalism, but life, alas, sometimes does ring stranger than fiction. Read on:

"Fearful that all the beer should go to waste, though, hundreds of people ran outside carrying pots, pans, and kettles to scoop it up - while some simply stooped low and lapped at the liquid washing through the streets. However, the tide was too strong for many, and as injured people began arriving at the nearby Middlesex Hospital there was almost a riot as other patients demanded to know why they weren't being supplied with beer too - they could smell it on the flood survivors, and were insistent that they were missing out on a party!"

One of the victims actually died some days later of alcohol poisoning!

"Because of the poverty of the area, relatives of the drowned took to exhibiting their families' corpses in their homes and charging a fee for viewing. In one house, though, too many people crowded in and the floor gave out, plunging them all into a cellar half full of beer."

(source: BBC)

I guess too much food really CAN kill ya...

Again, the best succinct retelling of the event is by Tony Sakalauskas, a free-lance writer, on

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Hulu - the best kept secert? Best of SNL clips I saw, tonight...

Am I out of the loop? Hulu truly is a much better way to watch TV and movie clips. The quality is a lot higher, never grainy. And you never have to worry about clicking on something that turns out to be not what you expected...

Thanks to Hulu, I can follow SNL again, and just in time for a better, much improved SNL as well. I don't remember when it started, but for a while SNL sucked big time: it was turning into Mad TV. But now, it is actually funny again. To be absolutely honest, and I cannot believe I am admitting this! I never quite got the humor of Will Farrell. I mean, Will Farrell on SNL. I loved him in quite a few movies, Old School being one of them. (A classic in my book!) And the Anchor Man is not bad at all. (Another classic in my book!) But Will Farrell on SNL I didn't quite get. I did laugh like hell, but I didn't know why. More Cowbell being a case in point... (Is this blasphemy?) I felt guilty laughing so hard, worried that any second someone would ask me point blank, "Ok, it is funny, but why?" Worse yet, what if the question were, "It's not funny. Explain to me."

The boys and I did some Youtubing on Hulu tonight. We laughed out loud at the SNL Digital Short, "People Getting Punched Right Before Eating". I laughed till tears came out of my eyes, but somehow I didn't feel guilty. It was funny because it was random. As my 11 year-old said, "It is so totally random. It is awesome!" I guess that is this generation's standard for humor now...

Another great piece is the SNL commercial for Taco Town. It is funny because it has a grain of truth to it, and it sort of makes you look at reality, and go, "Yeah, that's kind of ridiculous what Taco Bells passes for food..." Watch this, it is funny!

p.s. The boys and I thought the 2 SNL clips were so funny that later when we chatted with Dad who's away on business via Gmail Video Chat, we showed him the clips by pointing the webcam at the monitor (because Hulu does not work in China...)

By the way, Video Chat right from inside Gmail is truly awesome, and super easy to set up. Thumbs up!

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Friday, January 16, 2009

More on the US Air plane landing in the Husdon River...

The BOOT - The Business of Online Travel: Can a plane land on water and have survivors? Of course it can!

This blog post has many more links to information concerning the US Air plane landing in the Hudson River. It is interesting to view this incident from the perspective of someone from the travel industry. (Again, I am able to do all these theorizing now only because everybody was safe and sound).

All of a sudden, there is a Sully fever: apparently more than one fan site was created on Facebook alone, and this one has almost 74,000 fans! And of course, guess what? The domain was immeidately bought and put up. America, you never disappoint!

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Got Bacon? Thank goodness for people who have too much time on their hands...

A colleague of mine sent me a cryptic link, when I clicked on it, it showed my company's website with a big piece of fat juicy glistening bacon on top. I haven't laughed so hard since the last time the same colleague sent me the link to "Sad Trombone" (which sadly seems to no longer exist?) 
Check out Baconlicious...  or this one...  (ok, the second one is kind of mean, but I cannot help it!)

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Today is the 90th anniversary of The Great Boston Molasses Flood

It happened on January 15, 1919: a giant vat containing thick heavy molasses exploded, and the heavy goo flooded the streets of Boston's North End, reportedly clocking at 35 miles an hour. In the end, 21 people died from this tragedy and hundreds of people were injured. It took many days and efforts afterwards to clean up the mess and put people's lives back together.

The cause was surmised to be the drastic rise in temperature from the day before: the molasses expanded too quickly and the structure simply couldn't withhold the sudden expansion.


I found the best retelling of the event by Tony Sakalauskas, a free-lance writer, on

"Chunks of metal flew everywhere, piercing into people and buildings for hundreds of feet around. One huge chunk of steel smashed through a massive stone pillar supporting an elevated railroad. A piece of the railway sagged and fell. An alert train driver had his locomotive come to a screeching halt just moments before it would have plunged over.

The disappearance of that huge tank sent out a blast of air that pushed people away. But seconds later a counterblast rushed in to fill the vacuum and pulled them back in.

But most of the damage was caused by the molasses itself. It splashed onto city streets in all directions, speeding as fast as a man could run. The molasses smashed freight cars, plowed over homes and warehouses and drowned both people and animals. A three story house was seen soaring through the air as well as a huge chunk of the shattered vat that landed in a park 200 feet away.

Rescuers were bogged down in the stuff and were scarcely able to move as the molasses sucked the boots right off their feet. Trapped horses couldn't be removed so they had to be shot to death. The black sticky stuff filled cellars for blocks around and it took months for the hydraulic syphons to pump it out. Salt water had to be sprayed on cobblestone streets, homes, and other buildings because fresh water would just wash off the stuff. For months afterwards, wherever people walked, their shoes stuck to the goo. Some people even claimed that on a hot day one could still smell molasses even after thirty years."

The following is a mesmerizing account taken when it was happening: (Courtesy of Bostonist)

"[Boston police patrolman Frank] McManus picked up the call box and began his report to headquarters. A few words into it, he heard a machine-gun-like rat-tat-tat sound and an unearthly grinding and scraping, a bleating that sounded like the wail of a wounded beast. McManus stopped talking, turned, and watched in utter disbelief as the giant molasses tank on the wharf seemed to disintegrate before his eyes, disgorging an enormous wall of thick, dark liquid that blackened the sky and snuffed out the daylight."

I would love seeing a computer-generated re-enactment of the whole event. Who'd have thunk that molasses can do such damage?!

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Ah, I love Dilbert! Need to look busy while at work in the economic downturn...

Wally creeps me out, but he does sprout some truth sometimes.

I need one of those coaches...

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My favorite quote: "The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously."

"The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously." Henry Kissinger
I am sure he said it in a context that was different from what I take this saying to mean.  FWIW, for some reason, it's been haunting me.  Sometimes I see it as pessimistic, sometimes I see it as optimistic, Grin and bear it.  This is what existentialism is distilled down to, at least in my book, "Life sucks, but you've got to deal with it."  When Goethe said, "God is dead," I believe that's what he meant: Regardless whether there is God or not, human beings need to take responsibilities for our actions.  Accountability, and the will to see things through.
As I tell my kids on a nearly daily basis: You've got to do what you've got to do. 

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USAir crashed into Hudson River; Twitter received the first picture of the scene

This is the title of the blog entry: "U.S. Airways Crash Rescue Picture: Citizen Journalism, Twitter At Work". A Twitterer sent a photo from his iPhone.

This sort of illustrated what I talked about yesterday. I guess THIS itself is a great reason for Twitter... Instead of coming to my blog, or emailing everybody I know, or updating my Facebook status, the first thing I did when I got an email about the news was to log into Twitter and read the messages there. I also Tweeted myself.

(All of this, I think, is made ok by the fact that all passengers are safe and accounted for, otherwise it would be heartless to talk about the role of social media in the face of a tragedy...)

What amazed me is the cause of the crash: Birds!

A flock of birds apparently hit the engine of the plane. Wow. Apparently this happened more often than we think.

ABC news coverage: The plane is completely submerged under the water now other than the tail. Extremely scary to think of, "What if..."

The hero pilot's name is Chesley Sullenberger, and according to the news report, he even searched the aircraft before he himself left. Lots of people are saying now that this is NOT a plane crash, but a well-executed emergency landing based on an experienced pilot's intelligent split-second decision which turned out to save all the lives on board. It is refreshing to hear of news where people are praising the airlines rather than complaining about the fees they are charging. On the other hand, I am so glad that Mr. Sullenberger did not leave the airline industry because of the financial difficulties felt by all major airlines.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

To Tweet or Not to Tweet...

Upon learning my having joined the latest phenom which is Twitter, my male co-workers asked me point blank, But, WHY?

Why not just use emails if you want to talk to people you know? Why not use TXT? You can email to an entire group of people if that's your reasoning for using Twitter ("one to many" instant communication)

Or, is your intention of letting strangers know what you are doing at any given minute? Waiting in line in the grocery store? Watching TRM at airport lounge?

Why? What is the rational excuse for this? Or even, the psychological needs behind this?

Excuses I use for being on Facebook, despite not having lots of "friends" (or Peeps) nor being a teenager, nor leading an active interesting life, cannot even be applied to Twitter: I can share pictures with people that I know on Facebook, only when they want to know; I am not shoving my cute kids' pictures down anybody's throat. And my friends may not want to know that I have been up to on a daily basis (for some, perhaps once-a-year Christmas cards have been adequate?) , but if they check my Facbook status, again, only when they want to, they can see that I have been traveling a lot more for business and that my husband is traveling around the world for his own consulting gig.

No. The same rational does not apply to Twitter. So why indeed?

I happened to read an article in Spectrum, the less-techy (and more Wired-like version of IEEE's publication), in the current issue: "To Twitter or Not to Twitter" by Robert Lucky (I wonder whether he gets teased for his last name a lot...)

(Right off the bat, the author showed his Newbie status by not using the correct verb "Tweet"... But it's the type of endearing mistakes that anybody over 30 in this day and age could relate to...)

He mentioned his puzzlement over a young speaker's Tweeting about "waking up in the morning now". Any sensible (perhaps older person) would ask, "Why would anybody want to know?" And if they want to know, can't you call them? TXT them?

This new need experienced by the Internet-generation to be connected to the World all the time is intriguing to me, and I doubt that our children ever even stop and ponder at the wonder of this. To them this is part of existence, "I TXT, therefore I am." The real grown-ups say this now often as a gentle tease, but there is truth in this saying. "I am Connected on the Web, therefore I am." A life that is not documented is not worth living.

Excerpt from Mr. Lucky's article:

"Twitter, the social-networking Web site that allows users to broadcast short text messages to a group of friends, has burst into popularity with millions of subscribers. I'm a confirmed e-mail user, but that's so 20th century. I feel a certain pressure to get with it. So, to Twitter or not to Twitter? I view it as a question for the ages—the ages of the users, that is.

It was my generation of engineers that created the Internet, but it is largely today's youth who are molding the social connectedness that is coming to characterize cyberspace. These are the so-called digital natives, who grew up with the Internet already a part of everyday life. They're always online, inhabiting multiple identities, living a culture of sharing and peer collaboration. For them, multitasking is just the way it is. We older engineers built cyberspace, but our kids live in it, and for many of them the technology is transparent and almost irrelevant.

So as a digital immigrant, already an adult as the new culture was forming, I am amazed at what I see. At a recent meeting a young speaker casually mentioned that every morning he Twitters that he has just woken up. Alarm bells went off in my head. I thought about the fact that several scores of people are going to read a message that this guy has awakened. Isn't this is an incredible waste of time for everyone involved? But a more unpleasant thought also formed in the back of my head—the worry that no one would care that I myself had just arisen. There must be some social consequence that I'm missing. An older acquaintance told me that he had been using Twitter and that after a week he had begun to feel a sense of connectedness."

Mr. Lucky referenced two cartoons published by The New Yorker 12 years apart to illustrate how things have changed through the years, and how things have not really: these priceless (and thought-provoking) cartoons can be found here:

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." (A dog, sitting at a computer terminal, talking to another dog.) by Peter Steiner, The New Yorker, 5 July 1993

"I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking." (One dog talking to another.) by Alex Gergory, The New Yorker, 12 September 2005

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I came up the term "Metablogging" on my own in my last post: blogging about blogging. I am a genius.

For safe measure, I googled the word and darn, it has been written to death. So now my hope is to meta the meta, a blog about the blogs that blog about the other blogs. But that has been done also. Search came back with titles such as "meta, meta, meta"... Sigh.

I wish I were still in grad school, majoring in Cultural Studies, or even Ethnography, the Blogsphere is a such fertile ground for dissertation subjects. Even for a Psych major. Darn!

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Where do people find the time to blog? And the Huffington Post's guide to blogging...

I am seriously puzzled.  I have checked out the "competitions" out there: do a google search (or a google blog search, even better), and there are a lot of suburban moms out there, clicking away. Many of them are writers, professional even, were or still are.  Thank god!
They all have kids, well, duh, that's the definition for "mothers".  So, where do they find the time to produce such abundant material for their blog? 
I have to decide whether I want to go to bed or blabber away in the cyber space.  And even in the cyber space, there are so many "social media" choices for my insomniac mind: Facebook, My Space, Slickdeals, Baby Bargain chat rooms, in addition to all the wonderful professionally written blogs: the Huffington Post, ReadWriteWeb, Micro Persuasion, and, let me not forget the most fun of them all, randomly searching the interweb for funny stuff to read or watch.  (Oh, YouTube, you are the ultimate time sinker!)  Even Twitter, the haiku model of the social media, proves to be a great aide to procrastinators, despite its claim to brevity: read the "Everybody" section like a great "found object poetry", and click on all the TinyUrl links that people shared. FUN!
Hack, even reading reviews (and dueling comments) on is entertaining sometimes. 
And actually, spending more time on my computer, now that the kids are in bed, requires me to put on the blinder and ignore the 3-day-piled-up laundry, the unwashed dishes, the toys strewn about the floor, oh, and yes, BILLS TO PAY, and Quicken to enter (I am proud to say that I have been diligently keeping records on Quicken since 1993...  that's an astonishing record for someone who has never managed to keep a journal past page 10...) 
Really, I could be watching one of the Netflix DVDs that I haven't touched and need to return soon to get our money's worth. Or, I could read the newspaper. Or, heck, I should take a shower!  I could also use some exercise on the machine that is now, as predicted, the clothes hanger. 
It amazes me every time I think about this question. 
In her latest (and probably the "lightest" and least political) book, The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, Arianna Huffington proposes that everybody should have a blog, and that one should write something down instantly, no thinking required, no minimum for length for each post. And that's where the fun is, and probably what the point is about blogging. 
I have taken a liking (more an affinity, actually) to Arianna Huffington ever since her appearance on the Jon Steward Show this past December (promoting the book, of course).  Jon true to himself wasn't persuaded by Arianna's ensued plea, "hey, you should have a blog!"  What got me was what she said, as a side comment, about why she personally likes blogging, "This way my accent won't be an issue: people cannot hear my accent..."  It was mind-blowing to me that with her wealth and power and position, she still minds her own accent.  Perhaps I read too much into this. But I now think of her often and wish her well. 

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"I wish Mary Poppins is my mom..."

The other day when my 6-year-old was very frustrated with me for saying NO to most of his requests, he sighed and said with longing, "I wish Mary Poppings is my mom."
Startled but not offended, laughingly I said, "Yeah, I wish she were your mom too."
He in turn was shocked by my non-reactive reaction. 
Then today, after pointing out to me that I didn't feed him a "proper" dinner (Note to self: Bagel with cream cheese does not count as a "proper dinner"), he said, in mock-earnestness, "I am going to ask Santa for a better mom."  "Oh, I am just kidding."
Ah, a great sense of humor is the sure sign of intelligence, I always say. 
Being self-reflective to a compulsive degree, I often picture my kids sitting in a shrink's office, discussing their childhood with their unstable mother and her effect on their great novels of the decade.  Perhaps all the tribulations in our repressingly liberal suburban household will become cannon fodder for their artistic endeavors one day.  One can only hope.
Coda: Turned out that hot dog on a piece of white bread (since I don't buy buns because they always go bad before we can finish them) is an acceptable entree for dinner.  Thank goodness.
p.s. I am well aware of this:
self-reflection + lack of action to correct any un-motherly behavior = rampant self-indulgence in the guise of mock self-pity

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Questions from your kids: How many people are there in the world?

Here is your answer, as of January 13, 2009 (US Time)
U.S. 305,610,552
World 6,753,669,055
This is pretty neat, courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau's Pop Clocks
At my boys' insistence, here is the counter part: Statistics on death... 
(Yes, my kids are naturally morbid, considering how many comic books and movies inspired by comic books they have had encountered.  Neil Gailman is to be blamed, IMHO...)
Number of deaths: 2,448,017 (2005 U.S. census data)
Pondering when is the right time and age to explain to my 6-year-old the plights of people around the world, and how much to tell him... 

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Monday, January 12, 2009

New Website I dig (this morning): Just Hear It (great search interface for random songs...)

Thanks to ReadWriteWeb this morning, I am in the know for a brand new website for searching random songs on the interweb: Just Hear It.  Their tag line is:
Any Song. Legal. Free.
Legal is definitely a plus.  Free is a must!
This will be a great tool for when you need to show junior that great song in your youth.  When I searched for "I've Never Been to Me" (don't ask me why...) though, the results shown included a few YouTube clips.  I don't really mind since the one clip turned out to be quite funny.  Ah, nostalgia. 

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What's the strangest-looking package you have ever received in the mail?

Goodies: this one from my fav radio station (actually the only station I listen to, other than the station that starts playing Christmas music in October...) and one of my fav magazines:
Wired Magazine wanted to find out 9 years ago, so they started the "Return to Sender" Contest...
"During the nine years of Wired's Return to Sender contest, we received some weird stuff in the mail: broken hard drives, a 5-foot felt "long tail," a wooden DNA helix, and an 8-track player containing an Engelbert Humperdinck tape. The rules called for readers to send us any mailable object; if it came in an envelope or a box, it was disqualified. Winners had a photo of their entry published and received—drumroll, please—a Wired T-shirt. Oh, and immortal glory."
Read more to learn how you can send your own POOP (permissible objects of postability)!
The same concept of POOP is behind this company called "Send a Ball": quite literally, you send a ball via mail!  I guess someone out there should be able to start a new company with a different sort of POOP...  (Ok, not the REAL kind, IYKWIM...) 



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"Pay-As-You-Go Airline Charges by the Minute"

This from one of my fav magazines, Wired.
When I saw the headline, I thought to myself, "Great, now they have run out of things to charge us for, since they are asking the passengers to pay for everything including tiny bags of pretzels and water, they are going to charge us for sitting on the runway too?"  Luckily for travelers, the upstart airline, Airtime Airlines based in South Africa, will not be charging their passengers more for time spent by the plane idling and waiting in line to take off.  Whew. Now that's a relief.
This reminds me of the "Onion-esque" unveiling of the fictional airliner Derrie-Air threatening to charge by individual passenger's weight: "the more you weigh, the more you'll pay. After all, it takes more fuel—more energy—to get more weight from point A to point B..."  (It's a shame really. That would be one urgent reason for me to finally follow my default annual New Year resolution of getting on a diet...)  Only that Airtime Airlines is not fictional, it is a real airline, or, well, almost a real one, as soon as they get their hands on real aircraft that can fly real passengers... 
"Taking a cue from the cellphone industry, an upstart South African airline is selling flights by the minute and allowing customers to buy tickets and book flights via text message...  passengers will buy minutes instead of a traditional point-to-point ticket. They can buy a "starter pack" of prepaid minutes and top off their accounts by purchasing more minutes — by text message — at the going rate of 5 Rand (about 53 cents) a minute. Flight times have been mapped out in advance, so sitting on a runway for three hours won't triple the cost of your ticket.

Topping off accounts is where things get interesting. The cost for Airtime minutes can fluctuate, presumably according to promotions and market factors, so topping off becomes an exercise comparable to fuel hedging. Buy a big block of minutes when you think they're at their cheapest and you look smart, unless the price drops again the next day. Then again, it might go up. The price recently rose from 3 Rand to 5 Rand, meaning the cost of a round-trip flight from Durban to Cape Town climbed from about 750 Rand ($81) to 1,250 Rand (about $134). Still that's cheaper than the $200 it would cost on South African Airlines."

Read the entire article here.

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"Is it difficult to take care of kids?"

My 6-year-old boy asked me this question last night when I was putting him to sleep.  (Actually, I still need to sleep with him every night to get him to fall asleep which has been a subject of heated argument sometimes between me and my DH...  I guess I do tend to take the easier way out.  Sorry, Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken" is simply not for the time-crunched...) 
My boy asked, "Mommy, can I ask you a question?  Is it really hard to take care of kids?"  Startled by the innocent yet loaded question, I employed the age-old trick, "What do you think?"  He thought about it and then said, "It must be hard.  But why?" So I tried to explain to him that unlike complicated machines that we have, babies do not come with instruction manuals, and each one is so different, and they behave differently on a day to day basis, so it is very difficult to know what the right things to do.
I am such a lame parent...
Of course, now I wonder whether I have complained verbally out loud and he has heard me complaining about raising kids.  The natural extension of the complaint is, for a straight-forward thinker not privy to the complexities of parenthood, "I wish I didn't have kids". I hope he did not draw that conclusion on his own. 
But I do have a confession to make: sometimes I do wish that I have kids that are more easy-going... which is, probably every other kid that is not mine that I have seen. 

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

NOT from the Onion, surprisingly: Russian analyst predicts USA to break up into 5 countries!

When you first read it in the Drudge Report on November 25, 2008, you probably wondered, "Did I click on the wrong URL?  Is this The Onion?"

A leading Russian political analyst has said the economic turmoil in the United States has confirmed his long-held view that the country is heading for collapse, and will divide into separate parts.

Professor Igor Panarin said in an interview with the respected daily IZVESTIA published on Monday: "The dollar is not secured by anything. The country's foreign debt has grown like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt. By 1998, when I first made my prediction, it had exceeded $2 trillion. Now it is more than 11 trillion. This is a pyramid that can only collapse."

The paper said Panarin's dire predictions for the U.S. economy, initially made at an international conference in Australia 10 years ago at a time when the economy appeared strong, have been given more credence by this year's events....

He predicted that the U.S. will break up into six parts - the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong....
Somehow this piece of entertaining hypothesizing is picking up momentum and has graced the pages of "large" mainstream news outlets such as USA Today, MSNBC, and most notably the WSJ. 
According to Panarin:
  1. The "California Republic," including the West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington, as well as Nevada, Idaho, Utah and Arizona, that Panarin predicts will be part of China or under Chinese influence;
  2. "North Central America," including Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, that Panarin predicts will be part of Canada or under Canadian influence;
  3. The "Atlantic America," including Kentucky, Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, and all of New England, that Panarin predicts may join the EU;
  4. The "Texas Republic," including New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, that Panarin predicts will be part of Mexico or under Mexican influence;
  5. The "Offshore U.S.," with Alaska going to Russia and Hawaii going to either Japan or China.
Thanks to the WSJ we also have a visual representation of the breakup. 
I can see those who have spent so much money and efforts (and even risked their lives!) to come here and become US citizens become quite upset: what? You mean I could have just stayed where I was?  And now you are telling me that I have to go back and be Canadian (or Chinese or Mexican)? 
Note to self: consider moving, before the rush begins. 

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It's January 6, do you know who your Senator is?

Finally.  Dare I say "Finally"?  Al Franken finally was given enough evidence to declare victory, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, based on a 225-vote lead.  Norm Coleman of course immediately indicated, "I am going to SUE!!!"  (Attaboy, like a good old American, that's what I'd do too!) 
Please please, let Franken have the chance to run his mouth on the Senate floor.  I cannot wait to hear what he has to say now that he has such an attention-getting mainstream forum, instead of his radio show (and it is NOT even on FM!)

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Idea of the Day: What to do with the holiday cards now that you are thinking about taking down the Xmas tree...

Send them to St. Jude's Hospital and help the children earn some college money! 
I received this email about the Greeting Card recycling program at St. Jude's.  Wish I have heard about it in the previous years...

"Friends & family,
     Before you toss out all those Christmas cards, read this....
     "Over 30 years ago, wishing to show our donors our appreciation for making St. Jude's Ranch for Children possible, the idea was conceived for turning the previous year's Christmas cards into 'new' cards for the coming season. The recipients were so delighted with their unique 'thank you,' they requested the children sell them the special cards. And so, the St Jude's Card Recycling Program was born.
     Today we have expended the program to include 'all occasion' greeting cards...just about anything that starts with a used greeting card front.
      People from all over the world send us their used card fronts. The children precision cut the card fronts and glue them to pre-printed card stock. The children receive 15 cents for each acceptable card made which is divided among their savings, a college fund, their cottage fund for special group outings, and to provide the kids with extra pocket money.
     The children can make special orders for any occasion. Our most popular requests are for angel and teddy bear cards. Custom orders with special printing, etc. are also available."
     Please send your used all occasion greeting cards (front page only) to:
          St. Jude's Ranch for Children
          100 St. Jude's Street
          Boulder City, NV  89005-1618 

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Monday, January 5, 2009

In praise of the book, "American Born Chinese"

For Chinese people or people in the know, American Born Chinese are known as ABC, and different from Chinese immigrants (be their parents or their distant cousins), they have to cope with a different set of tribulations, and many of these are psychological. This book, or rather, graphic novel, follows the tradition of Frank Chin's angry plays ("The Year of the Dragon" and especially, "The Chickencoop Chinaman") and Maxine Hong Kingston's Americanization (or rather, Asian-Americanization) of Chinese folklore in "Tripmaster Monkey", and provides a 21-century spin on growing-up Asian/American in the USA. In fact, I have to wonder whether the young brilliant author Gene Luen Yang has read Chin's and Kingston's works -- he must have since these are part of the "canon" now. 
All the above probably makes the book sound rather dry, it would be my fault. The book is a wonderful combination of humor, irony, insightful reflections, and great story-telling. It is a wonderful and short read: my husband, my 10-year-old, and I passed the book along and finished reading it in one night. You obviously do not have to be an ABC, or an Asian American, or an Asian for that matter, to appreciate the underlying theme of this book: you have to learn who you really are and appreciate who you are to begin to reach your full potential, and to truly feel that you belong wherever you go.  The theme of "trying to fit in" will resonate with any young person (and not so young) trying to find a place in the world for themselves. 
The book has won several awards, including the National Book Award for Young People. 

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