Casually Suggesting Racism in the AP News Wire: Cities with the Most Volunteers

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/29/2008 11:36:00 PM 0 comments Print this post

Here's an example of one way to subtly show your bigotry if you're an AP writer.

Title of the News Story: "Miami Ranks Lowest in Volunteering"

Leads off with...
"MIAMI (July 27) - Blame it on the traffic. Or the number of new immigrants. Or the allure of the beach. Whatever the reason, Miami has secured the bottom spot -- No. 50 among major U.S. cities -- in new rankings of the percentage of adults who volunteer."

Blame it on...the number of new immigrants for low marks in volunteering. It's interesting how you can blame a whole swath of people tagged "immigrants" in the same way you can blame inanimate things like traffic and your desire to go to the beach.

Then expecting only the finest of scholarly thought, I looked over at the comments section to see how they would receive this article, and sure enough the Rhodes Scholars came out for this...

"No suprise here. The fact that people in Miami do not volunteer is a preview of what the United States is rapidly becoming. Not a unified nation but a collection of a few major immigrant groups interested in enjoying our economy not giving anything back to the culture. And it isn't just Miami that's the problem. Nor is it just Hispanic immigrants. Many recent immigrant groups from Asia are equally self-centered. Kiss the U.S. good bye and welcome the new two class economic system."

"Florida might as well be a different country now. It has a different culture, language, and mind-set than the rest of the U.S. Hispanic organizations have said they intend to take back the lands once controlled by Spain. The Reconquista Movement. It's working. California has a record budget deficit due to social services granted to all people in CA. The burden of recent undocumented immigrations is bankrupting them. They'll have no choice but legalize them and bring them into the tax base. One way or the other they will regain political control."

"South FL is basically a different country and different world. On the outside it's money dripping - huge yachts, fancy restaurants, expensive exotic cars, expensive stores, but there is a huge underworld non English speaking people. When we've been down there I feel like I'm in a foreign country with very little English being spoken and if it is, is usually spoken with a Hispanic or Caribbean accent. It is a fun place to visit, but would NEVER want to live there!!

"'s the deal in Miami...they're are alot of young kids running around trying to live above their means cus that's what most of them do there. They are too damn self absorbed to think of others in need.Then you can add in the immigration situation. Those that come to Miami...typically from Cuba...are too busy trying to find work and make enough money to help their familes that are still in Cuba.The organizations that need volunteers should use a gorilla warfare type of advertising. Mostly at night at the clubs, or outside the might actually get a bunch of kids that moved from the higher states in ratings and convince them there are stilll people in need there."

There's nothing at all in the content of the report regarding immigrants, but that won't stop people from using it as a platform to vent their racism! Those who write up this wire report tell us that we have their permission to blame them anyway! Nope, we don't need to have a reason to blame groups of people whom you don't understand, you can just sort it. Pretty cool, huh?

Peculiar is even the images to hammer this not-so-subtle racism either.

Another brown illegal hanging his head in shame for taking an American job.

Compared to images from cities with the most volunteers.

Good ole Austin Texas with the 'Murrican flag.

The nice old white families in Portland Oregon.

Surely, you won't find immigrants tainting the American spirit in Austin, TX or Portland, OR.

What's interesting is the fact that economic and city infrastructure is not targeted for questioning at all, and probably has more to do with volunteering than anything else.

The city of Vice, a city of vices, and a city built on Disney World, NY. They all seem to be built on corporation-operated, thrill-seeking tourist attractions. The first three especially don't strike me as cities with tight communal, familial, and spatial networks, and therefore, they aren't afforded the opportunity to volunteer as much.
I would think people volunteer mostly through opportunity and strong personal networks and communities.

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Pangea Day

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/23/2008 11:18:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

Good lord, I didn't know about Pangea Day. Happened on my 24th birthday no less.

Pangea Day.

The event, in short, a rundown of people-connecting, human condition short films. The website containing these films, I discovered in the archives of the 6998 emails that I haphazardly left unread.

In light of my facebook old picture uploading craze and the fact that I was all over LACC around pretty girls yesterday, I really felt this one by Ted Chung.

That just made me think of why I become paralyzed when these opportunities present themselves. Asian American Male syndrome, maybe.

Then there's this:

The Elevator Music piece reminds me of so many things. I guess I would liken it to a giant choosing not to overpower and inundate. Respectful, humble, do-what-they-do in that context.

And this:

A piece about people playing volleyball between the artifically-created wall that separates Mexico and the US


A short about tourism in post-Hurricane New Orleans.


A real scary short about a mob in Cameroon ready to beat down some kid just because he stole a few chickens.

And finally, this:

About William Kawkamba, the kid from Malawi who built a windmill. Built a windmill for his family out of old bicycle parts, bamboo, and basically lot of scraps. I posted about this before, I called him hip-hop because he made something out of nothing without any formal college education. Inspiring to the infinitieth degree to anyone who ever wants to do anything other than what they've been prescribed to do.

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The Battle of the Ghostbusters!

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/21/2008 06:38:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

Apparently, there was a Ghostbusters cartoon series before the ones that we know of today that call themselves the REAL Ghostbusters. There was a reason that they added "REAL" to the Ghostbusters that we all know and love, assuming that you all know and love the Ghostbusters that had Slimer, Winston, Janine, Egon, Ray, and Peter.

Check this the heck out:

Yeah, WTF.

An ape is one of the ghostbusters. Turns out that he's the scientific brains of the operations.

It's actually based on the original and first Ghost Busters, which is quite peculiar in its rural orientation in itself.

But it's theme song has been lodged in my hippocampus (look at me using neuroscience terms!) region because of its sheer ridiculosity. The monkey barking actually reminds me of this one Filipino guy on the Macon St. basketball court who would curl his lips into that "O" shape as if he were about to woof.

Someone had commented that its quirkiness in cartoon form was ripped straight out of the Scooby Doo. The monkey represents the scared non-vernacular-speaking, yet highly communicative, intelligent "animal." The human protagonists appear to be these quirks who operate on the margins of society.

The equipment they use is even quirky. Or at least it appears so because it doesn't appear that they even try to explain why they use those objects. They're too busy bouncing around and acting strange, which gives off this very all-around disengaging, disorienting feel. From the skull phone that would tell them their next mission to the humanoid bouncing carriage car, there was too many elements left unexplained to actually understand the storylines.

Though they may operate in what appears to be New York, they react to things defined as outside the city. Representative of its behaviorist antecedent (I always wanted to use that word), at the end they have some kind of explanatory lesson that can be gleaned from the events.

Despite their slightly marginalized status, they apparently had their followers and even took time out of their schedules to do PSAs:

An astute commentary on the appearance of drug dealers.

Well, this series seems to have been part of NBC's final attempts at showing cartoons before their dive into Saved by the Bell and other teen-oriented shows.

Now look at the contrasts to this:

The Real Ghostbusters is the highly institutional cartoon relative to the one above in more ways than one.

It's institutionalism is even embedded in it's logo. A strict crossing out of ghosts, as if it was a say no to drugs or forest fires kind of thing vs. the wavy, almost smiling ghost that you see in its predecessor.


The Real Ghostbusters is the most known and it brings out this highly authoritative feeling. Creators of this series did not portray them not as kooky, quirky outsiders but as these respected fireman-type heroes who actually did science.

Yes, yes, a double dollop of authority. Firemen as the go-get em tiger types and scientists who strategically and effortlessly planted words like "frequency", "plasm", and "proton pack" into my pre-pre-school vocabulary. They even had a secretary, of course a woman, to take calls.

The equipment they use is not weird at all. At least, I never thought to think how weird it was because they explained why they need to use each of their objects. Ecto-1 is a highly functional shaggin' wagon which Winston maintains which gets them to places. Proton packs bust ghosts. Put those punks in the containment unit, which actually is peculiar and would make them seem to justify the prison-industrial complex --- by taking care of these societal "problems" and packing them into an "airtight" scientifically inescapable portal.

But I won't go there. Yet.

The net effect of this Ghostbusters is that they made it accessible to anyone. Like the other Ghostbusters, they too operated in some type of firehouse in New York, except it actually felt like New York because of the many interactions with regular people.



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Spanking Your Brains Instead of Your Butt

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/20/2008 05:58:00 PM 0 comments Print this post

Key quote: "For years, parents and school maams were limited to spanking their butts, now were spanking their brains."

What was interesting was that after that quote, he was talking about how the kids would be easier to control. You could make kids more obedient. You can flip a switch that would turn off the gay button.

I'm not sure how parents are reacting or if they actually are overmedicating their children, but I do know that all these chemical psycho-social "solutions" are more readily available than they ever were. I have to wonder how the human race has made it so far presumably without its help for over 2 million years.

Every and anything in this age of microbiological-pharmaceutical corporation growth can be defined as a "sickness" or weakness and then "fixed." But fixed seems to mean acting "normal". "Normal" in our context seems to mean "controllable." Oddly enough though, it's only the people in the extremes who we ever seem to acknowledge or talk about.

Thanks to the idea from this post.

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A Libertarian's Dream? The City of Dubai

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/18/2008 09:07:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

I've heard about Dubai in Michael Jordan's escapades around the world. His place to golf.

Business people seem to like talking about visiting the luxuries and "modernity" of Dubai.

Some people want to retire there.

But its a city of excess. Malls. Sprawl.

As I've learned from Heather Rodgers' Gone Tomorrow, with tons of excess combined with cleanliness comes a lot of hidden truths.

Essentially, a lot of labor gets fucked out.

Mike Davis was interviewed.

Quotes of interest:

The Barksdale, Stanfield organizations essentially ran Baltimore like the ruling families rule Dubai. However, the difference is that those at the top in Dubai were handed what they got.

-"Economics in Dubai have changed dramatically since 9/11 as the U.S. Administration realized that putting all their economic and political investments in Saudi Arabia was potentially dangerous. Also since the 1970's the Gulf countries learned from their bad experience in knowing that basing the economy on vast oil profits only could mean that with quick changes to oil markets their economies could be left with nothing.

Dubai is the product of a long range investment project and Dubai has been particularly skilled perhaps if not brilliant in this regard. However it must be highlighted that this economic plan doesn't ensure jobs for people within the region, as Dubai has utilized a plantation strategy invented by the British and then copied by the U.S., now being implemented in Dubai."

With such an economy that doesn't ensure jobs, what exactly happens to labor?

-"Stefan Christoff: Concerning labor in Dubai in your article extensive article on Dubai, Sinister Paradise, you write that, "Dubai, together with its emirate neighbors, has achieved the state of the art in the disenfranchisement of labor. Trade unions, strikes, and agitators are illegal, and 99% of the private-sector workforce are easily deportable non-citizens. Indeed, the deep thinkers at the American Enterprise and Cato institutes must salivate when they contemplate the system of classes and entitlements in Dubai." So regarding this passage can you provide more details concerning labor conditions in Dubai?

Mike Davis: Now the above outlines the theory behind Dubai.s labor policies, however labor has showed that it is capable of fighting and organizing in Dubai. Labor organizing is driven by desperate labor conditions that many visitors to Dubai don't see or willingly ignore. It is estimated that upwards of one-million foreigner workers are currently in Dubai, living in conditions that multiple human rights organizations have condemned.

Hundreds-of-thousands of foreign workers live in camps, often without air conditioning, who are bused each morning to construction sites at which these workers are doing some of the hardest manual labor in the world with temperatures at times reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Dubai is widely accused of covering up high numbers of workers deaths on these massive construction sites, including the Burj Dubai tower currently under construction.

Despite Dubai's friendly face and openness to western vices, people who travel to Dubai to do independent research on the conditions of workers are often deported from the country. Last year an Indian-American academic researcher who wanted to study the labor conditions for foreign workers in Dubai was detained within twenty-four hours upon arrival then deported."

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The You-Defined Sports Commentary: The Wave of the Future?

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/18/2008 03:30:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

Over on the RealGM basketball Chicago Bulls board, there is a poster named Dougthonus who does a podcast every so often.

I've never listened, but judging from poster's comments, it'd probably be best to get to going on it.

To me, he is the new breed of fandom and sports journalism. A fan analyst. One of the, but also capable of insight and perhaps even a dollop of humor.

Doug makes good and bad posts like anyone else.

He might be looked at as lacking inside information, but we all find out this information in peta-seconds after the rumor leaks. For example, right now, at this very moment, no one, including the ESPNers know the situation regarding the contracts of Ben Gordon and Luol Deng. The fans, the ESPN journalists are all on the same level.

He also might be looked at as a homer at first with nothing better to do, but with information available anywhere, combined with sustained postings and analysis on the Bulls, he can be a lot more nuanced in his questions to NBA brass than the average ESPN or TNT reporter.

What it boils down to is that he doesn't seem to be as controlled as the ordinary journalists. It's this rawness, this assumed authenticity is something that seems to appeal to a lot of these Web 2.0 internet users today.

Summer League basketball in Orlando was sort of controlled by a mix of Web 2.0 internet users and fan-like commentary. Donte and Gallante seemed to generate a lot of attention just by commenting on whatever seemed to come to mind, and in the process responding to relatively unfiltered viewer-generated email. They had a running commentary on possible names for the new Oklahoma City NBA team, starting with the Bombers. Yikes! They answered questions about what someone should eat for lunch. Someone even sent them an email about possibly interviewing Dougthonus, who incidentally was at Summer League, to which Gallante responded, "he's probably that guy in the purple shirt."

They did not need to say much about the game. What they did in 2 days of "coverage" was much more entertaining than the entire veteran ESPN crew on NBA Draft Night or any other game.

Yes, it's just summer league basketball, and people talking through an NBA game might be a little different.

However, consider UEFA Eurocup 2008, the tournament for European teams in soccer which happens between every two years that the World Cup isn't happening. The tournament was covered by well-known soccer commentators, Andy Gray from FIFA 08 and some Scottish guy. However, what was peculiar was that they were not at ground level. They were at ESPN studios. They were seeing what we could've seen on TV ourselves. No special access to the players, and once they got back from the viewing room to make those in-game commentaries, they would go straight to the ESPN studio with some ESPN guy and Julie Foudy and continue their conversation. The only differences between those commentators and the average fan watching the tournament is that they were probably well-paid to give their opinions and they could indoctrinate on a mass scale.

Now in an age of digital television, an age where these basketball games are broadcast globally, and in different languages, with commentaries by people dressed in suits, but still as far from the game as we are...

...streamed to people like me who want nothing more than moving images of balls in hoops

...just as the newspaper industry is getting ripped to shreds and struggling to reinvent itself thanks in large part to the wide circulation of internet news (and probably environmental concerns as well)...

...just as TIME Magazine revealed that the person of the year last year was in Youtube, as in regular folk person generated content...

...what is preventing fan-based sports play-by-play commentary from rising and supplanting sports commentary?



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Depression of 2009, Economic Geogaphies of 1929

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/16/2008 11:46:00 PM 0 comments Print this post

I have no idea why I saved this blog here a month ago. For some reason, my memory recall of ideas has been hazy. I feel like I've been "tip of tongue" most of the time in which I know I had an idea, but it feels like I can't quite capture exactly what it is. I'm hitting everything, except the exact strand of thought that clarifies everything.

The Depression of 2009 and the Economic Geographies of 1929.

At the time I'ed it to my "blog" tag, I was thinking of a possible master's thesis, the geography of opportunity, for my Master's application, I made a trip to the Center for Land Use Interpretation bought a book and set of maps called Radical Cartography and another book called Slow Space.

Quotes of interest:

-"In discussions of the current financial crisis, the importance of housing and mortgages, and of foreign account imbalances, notably with East Asian manufacturing economies, suggests a failure in spatial fixes on which capitalism has been said to depend."

Spatial fixes I've learned from this blog, and this paper are simply "geographic expressions of an economic system."

-"It is a matter of material sites of social reproduction, such as the home."

So what was of interest to me? What was the question or questions I was interested in?

Some possibilities...

1) What were the economic cycles were people enmeshed in at the time? What was the physical infrastructure, layout that made this possible in the first place? Upon what did people depend on to obtain commodities to sustain their lifestyles? What was the geography that enabled them to depend on such things in the economy? I think this is likely what I was most wondering about.

2) What did the maps of 1929 look like? Was there spontaneous consumership and what did that look like?

3) Could it have to do with immigrants and following the flow of goods and commodities?

4) What were the social networks available? Upon what networks of relatives, co-workers, friends did people rely on during the depression?

5) What were the opportunities they saw and what did they seize upon?

I can't quite figure out what was interesting, so it's just here and maybe something else will remind me.

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Making Sense of the Topic Are L.A.'s Hospital's Safe?

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/16/2008 12:47:00 PM 1 comments Print this post

What I saw in this lecture was a very real tension between the real suffering of the patient and the heavy dose of expectations and standards to be met within these enormous factory-like hospital systems.

The topic centered around hospital-induced infections in Los Angeles.

The panelists, three. One from the people's perspective, a patients-rights advocate. Two from the practitioner's perspective, a director from UCLA Medical Center and some kind of Risk Management/PR person from Kaiser Permanente.

The fireworks officially set ablaze when the patients-rights advocate demands transparency in hospitals.

"Transparency" in the sense that the general public know of the shortcomings and limitations that hospitals and doctors have. Transparency is just another means of making sure that the hospitals are "accountable." "Accountable" meaning reliable and trustworthy.

Trustworthy hospitals mean that doctors, nurses, and other caregivers are treating their patients/everyone well.

Treating their patients/everyone well. Keyword "/everyone."

Meanwhile, on the flip-side, from a doctor or health-care giver's perspective, what the patients' rights advocate was advocating was probably just one more teardrop of annoyance to a bucket load of them. I felt that with every joke the UCLA Medical Center guy was making and the corresponding audience laughter on topics such as making the patients pay for their care.

Years of medical school, internships, paying loans, generally in attempt to help people's wellbeing, 24-hour workdays, no holidays or weekends, seeing countless patients a year and having to treat everyone individually. It's only a matter of time before everyone becomes anyone, which you don't mean to, but you're too tired to care. On top of that, hospitals in LA are going bankrupt and closing down. There seem to be less and less doctors and other resources around to do anything.

But these people on the outside, the patients, their advocates don't see any of this struggle. They probably struggle to, but that isn't seen at all and even more variable outside of the hospital context. Not when that medical practitioner's top-rated hospital is moving into a billion-dollar state-of-the-art facility in the broken neighborhood of Westwood. This prestige and wealth only serves as fuel to the fire --- more reason for the advocate to run full force at the system yelling at the practitioner to stop fucking up! If they can fight the big fish, the patients will be heard.

All that the UCLA dude and Kaiser woman could talk about were the way they managed their hospitals. He was keen to point out that he was like a "mayor" of a small town. The woman was proud to report that they had taken steps in Kaiser to improve safety as adapted from the airline industry, which I thought was something of an odd connection to make from a patient/consumer perspective because airlines give no shit at all about how you're doing even if you do pay to be pampered. Actually, on second thought, maybe there is a connection after all!

They were very specific about the management improvements they've implemented in each of their hospital systems. They were very much in love with the systems implemented. UCLA dude was happy to talk about all the numbers achieved in his time as top dog. #3 rated Medical Center in the United States. Hitting the 99th percentile on public health measures intra-hospital.

Essentially, he was hitting on stuff that patients don't give a beer dump about, which he actually knows intuitively and mentions, but as a defense mechanism has to bring up anyway. All he could point out were these rankings and numbers, which is impressive. But anytime someone's argument of defense relies entirely on numbers, usually there's something weak underneath the argument. Numbers and standards ideally should never be an ends to meet, especially in a field that depends on individual well-being.

...but unfortunately it seems that's what these large bureaucratic systems inevitably entail...some blind adherence and satisfaction to an abstraction, numbers that are highly relative, which say virtually nothing about the quality of care. There's nothing wrong with him or any other hospital manager focusing on numbers as a means to show that you're doing well, but as long as these hospitals are overworked and remain underresourced thanks to the HMO system, they're never going to progress to a level where doctors en masse will see eye to eye with patients.

Inicidentally, UCLA guy mentioned that 1 out of 3 people still wouldn't recommend UCLA Medical Center to a friend, but it's odd that this wasn't a focus of the discussion.

Inevitably, the UCLA and Kaiser people's involvement with the management end elicits talk about the responsibility laying with individuals. System works fine, our standards work fine, its the individuals who fuck up. Individual doctors, whom they weren't going to talk about at all in this public lecture setting. And the faceless individual impatient patients. This is where the tension flares up.

In addressing the specific concern of hospital-induced infections, Kaiser woman could only stress the importance of washing hands, as if this was the cure to AIDS. UCLA man said washing hands was important but not visiting the hospital was probably best. Patient advocate presses on these big level administrators to give more specifics about how things apply to the patients.

With so much rancor flying between the patients-rights advocate and the hospital admins, it usually means that both sides expect too much from each other and don't get what they want.

The patients expect too much from the hospital admins/doctors/staff, and hospital admins/doctors/staff expect too much from the patients.

Patients expect doctors to be nice, they want better working facilities, they expect everything to be perfect, they don't pay etc. etc.

However, it's always easy to blame the individual patient for being in the wrong. What makes it appear this way is that patients usually aren't the united front and powerful organization that a hospital is. An impersonal, methodologically organized group of people who have been in the business for years dealing with numerous people can't possibly be wrong over some individual patient's judgement can they?

Moreover, there's this American idea that you must pay for everything with money. Like other industries, it also seems as though patients should pay for all the work and extra anguish that doctors go through. It's a business, no free lunch. Patients should be grateful for whatever service they get and being so open to taking patients in.

Patients are "consumers" in the sense that they do demand a limited resource --- the doctors' service. However, they are NOT consumers in the sense that they will keep demanding a good or service. They are not really ready, willing, and able consumers, but people who believe that they are not well and thus seek an avenue to be well.

There is not much sympathy in American public discourse for patients, and this extends towards the attitude toward the patient in the hospital.

Judging from my mom's stories and the discourse in this dialogue, hospital staff seem to expect that patients should understand what they personally go through as doctors/etc. They seem to expect patients to know how things in the hospital work. They expect patients to check for conditions online as if they were the ones who went to medical school and could diagnose and treat themselves. And the kicker is that they actually want people out of the hospital. Doctors thinking everyone is invested in healthy like they are, expect too much of their patients, so they get tired and frustrated as well.

Thus the equilibrium of tension between doctors and patients in LA hospitals continues. It seems that nobody really gets what they want at a hospital, but it's there because it's business. What strikes me is that doctors really don't want patients to come to the hospital cause they have enough people coming over, but they also want to make sure that they keep up business, especially if they could pay for it.

In the end, the management folks at UCLA and Kaiser could only talk about how patients need to "arm" themselves with information.

There isn't much taught in the public discourse about handling health crises yourself. The internet and google search might be changing that a bit, but not everyone has the internet nor search abilities necessary quite yet. People generally aren't wired to practices of folk remedies, etc.

In America's education system and public discourse, we see and we learn that it is hospitals that we must go to first for any and all health care needs. It's the most visible object. So then here comes the patient expectation system. It's big, it's grand, somebody's got to know something when you go there, right? Doctors know what they're doing, they're rich, they'll help me.

People generally DO NOT want to be in the hospital, but they simply do not know any viable options and hospitals seem to have been marketed as the place to be when sick. There isn't any curriculum in schools for home remedies, alternative medicines, and public health measures are kind of a joke.

The business of healing strikes me as crisis-oriented, kind of like calling a plumber to unclog your sink. It makes me wonder whatever happened to the home visit doctor that I would see in Lassie and other assorted 50s television shows.

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Ronaldinho to AC Milan

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/15/2008 11:48:00 PM 0 comments Print this post

Ronaldinho, I hardly knew thee...

And now you're going to Italy.

I was a fan of something I hadn't really seen or experienced. I missed that 3-0 victory over Real Madrid with the standing O. I just missed the Champions League win.

I did however came in time to see Real Madrid and David Beckham win La Liga. I came in time to see Henry join you, Eto'o, Messi, and form what was supposed to be the most unstoppable attack. I came during Christmas to see you struggle against Real Madrid.

Seems like a ton of bad luck has hit this team the past 2 years. Was it adding the UNICEF to their kits, the headband, or the commencement of my fandom? Or was it personal habits of yours.

It's been a frustrating few years following the sports teams that I do, and Barcelona, you're one of them.

I know 'Dinho was a party boy, but I always wondered why this team couldn't just make things work. From what I can tell, this team seems to be so in love with its style and reputation (admittedly one that I liked) that it never actually got around to maximizing the talents of its players. From putting Henry on the wings all season, to sticking with Eto'o against ManU, to playing Deco fresh off injury, etc.. Everyone who hasn't been there a while always seems to want out.

With some of those old guys gone, I'm worried that this team doesn't have that pizazz to carry them any further than it went last season. Seems like this team likes to kill anything resembling that. We were already one of the top defenses in La Liga, and yet we buy all these defensive players. Whooptidoo.

Messi is alright, but honestly he's overrated --- his specialty isn't really kicking the ball in the net. He's our best ball-handler, but it doesn't matter unless you're getting the ball in the back of the net. If Thierry Henry can regain that Arsenal form and/or Eto'o his 2006 form, then maybe we have a shot. Perhaps even better if we got Adebayor.

All I know is that we need guys who will put pressure on the opposing goaltender, and why not get these "shooters" from a team called "Arsenal" if not for a good season-long pun?



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It's July. Time to Look at the Bulls!

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/06/2008 07:28:00 PM 0 comments Print this post

I don't need crack, I have the RealGM Chicago Bulls Message board.

It's kinda disgusting how often I check that board for rumors during the summer time, even when things weren't so exciting. The Summer of 2000 was really what began all this, this summer-time obsession with offseason NBA basketball --- the year we drafted Fizer, Crawford, Bagaric, Voskuhl, Guyton, and El-Amin in one draft and also the summer where we were expecting to get T-Mac, but ended with Brad Miller, who wasn't bad, and Ron Mercer, who wasn't that good.

So, I've come a long way in this, or it's just been a long time where I haven't really obssessed with the Bulls during summer-time.

This one here's bound to be as exciting a summer as any. One big reason for this exciting summer happened on May 21, 2008 and officially concluded on June 26, 2008, 6:40 EST.

In two words, Derrick Rose.

In the context of watching the playoffs, he was a point guard in the mold of CP3 and D-Williams.

In the context of draft history, he was the Stevie Franchise pick to our Elton Brand.

He could also have been the Jason Kidd to Michael Beasley's Glenn Robinson.

In the context of our draft history and guard selections, he is going to be what J-Will was supposed to be.

I'm not sure that I liked the 2nd or 4th comparisons, especially given that Franchise's wheels have reduced him to another Penny, and J-Will's bicycle reduced him to a Bobby Hurley. I guess it's not helpful right now that one of the big topics on the board is the fact that he has tendinitis in his knees before his first summer league game. The uncertainty of a rookie player is so...unnerving...This is why my first instinct was to trade him for a known quantity like Carmelo Anthony.

I really can't tell what kind of player he's going to be because I haven't really sat down and watched him. I've only seen what I've seen mostly through highlight reels. I can only hope that he's jumping on the D-Will, CP3, soon-to-be-great point guard generation. That he's the guy that will live in the paint. That he's the guy who will live in the paint and kick it out.

To this point, all we've seen so far from him in his association with the Bulls are interactions with the media. From his draft interviews, Cubs-White Sox baseball games, the intro press conference, his interviews, he's not a media-savvy guy. 19-years old in a generation of text-messaging and abbreviated speech, mostly giving 3-sentence answers.

But even if there doesn't appear to be much, there's still something unique about him. After his intro press conference, when players usually just bounce, especially those who don't talk very much, he actally asked John Paxson if he could thank everyone for making things possible. It wasn't a cursory courtesy, some kind of procedural thing. He asked John Paxson for permission as if he was slightly embarrassed. Slightly embarrassed because it isn't something normally done, he knows it, but he still felt that he had to do it. The man lives unselfishness.

Not bad for a man whose supposed to be the white matter for this team, the connective tissue between the different functions in the brain.

That #23 in Memphis really fit him. It's a shame that he couldn't wear that number here all because some guy who apparently was very popular in Chicago wore that number already.

The #1 will do fine for him. Didn't think it would because I thought he would wear the #25, but hey it works. Officially puts to rest what I thought always fit Craw-diddy really well.

It would've been kind convenient if he took the #5 (with apologies to Andres Nocioni), so that those who bought the Jalen Rose jerseys wouldn't have to worry about buying a new one.

Anyhow, outside of Derrick Rose, Bulls have done a lot so far:

-Hired Vinny Del Negro (VDN) or Vinny Del Whito as Joe Go put it one time when VDN was still in the "L" playing for the Spurs. The jokers at the RealGM board have had plenty time to make references to Joe Pesci, his Italianness, and the fact that he kept mentioning in his introductory press conference, that "[coaching the team/learning on the job/establishing communication with the players/shaving his ass-hairs] would be a process."

Yes, yes, we understand it is all a process. The question is if he can progress in this process back to being considered playoff contenders, which is where this team was before 2007-2008. The way that he drilled into our heads that "[x] would be a process" didn't really inspire much confidence that he could get past that stage and get us into a "processed", finished product stage. Really seemed like the Bulls organization was just trying to lower everyone's expectations.

VDN has no coaching experience at all at any level, but was assistant GM for the Suns and so he was a bit familiar with Mike D'Antoni's system. As folks might recall, but later forget, Mike D'Antoni appeared to be John Paxson's first choice to replace one, Jim Boy-love. So Paxson hired what appears to be someone who could rip off D'Antoni's high-pace, 7-secnd offense, only for much cheaper than D'Antoni's 6 million dollar asking price.

Despite his inexperience, the cheapness of the organization, and this process talk, he still seemed to handle things quite well on the podium. Hopefully that translates to handling things well when were down 2 with less than 2 minutes left and he needs to find the right combo of players to put in, or draw up the right plays, or fire up the troops.

-Counter-balancing VDN's vast inexperience and broad management knowledge are the incoming Assistant coach trio of Del "fucking" Harris, Bernie Bickerstaff, and Bob Ociepka, whom I assume will focus on the more technical aspects of this team.

Most excited about Del Harris, who was actually a coaching candidate, and Bernie Bicks.

D.Harris was a coach of that Lakers squad with Eddie Jones, Cedric Ceballos, and Nick Van Exel so he knows a bit about getting the best out of an athletic young team without that outstanding, obvious #1 option.

Bicks always seems like a guy who can make something out of nothing. Seemed like he turned the artists formerly known as the "Bullets" around not too long ago.

Two guys who sat on NBA benches who've come to Chicago to become coaching assistants. Alright, it works for me if it does for them!

-Chris Duhon, back-up point guard for the past 3 years, signed with the Knicks.

I'll sort of miss him. I always thought he was the best point guard on the team, simply because he circulated the ball, unlike the man he was playing in front of him. Too bad, he never had anything resembling a jump-shot.

But at mid-summer, there's still lots of other stuff to settle:

As it stands, the roster is cluttered. Too many guys need minutes, especially at the 2, 3, and 4.

1: Rose, Hinrich
2: Gordon, Hinrich, Hughes, Sefolosha
3: Deng, Nocioni, Sefolosha
4: Goooden, Thomas, Nocioni
5: Noah, Gray

-The big thing is deciding if they're keeping both BG and Deng. Lots of people think that if BG signs only the qualifying offer instead of a 9-10 dollar extension, then we might as well trade him now. However, the latest interviews seem positive at least from BG's side. I'm hoping we could sign him to the same contract offered him last year.

-If we decide to keep BG, we must absolutely trade Kirk Hinrich, the 9.5 million dollar man who averaged 11.5 ppg in 32 mpg. He's a serviceable shooting guard at best, especially considering that he didn't average 12 ppg. The fact that he's making 9.5 million, an amount earned by Manu Ginobili, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, to be a backup who won't even get the majority of minutes at his natural position will not be doing us any favors.

However, even if we get rid of Hinrich, there's still the clutter at shooting guard, small forward, and power forward.

-At the shooting guard spot, Larry Hughes' contract probably won't be bought out and it wouldn't be fruitful for us anyway because he'd still count against the cap. Even though no one really wants him here, he'd likely still log at least 20 mpg, taking away time from Thabo, who might be a better fitting piece going forward.

Thabo's in his 3rd year already, he showed signs of being a serviceable player, but the problem is that we cluttered up the backcourt by trading for Larry.

-At the small forward spot, Deng and Nocioni have always been tugging for playing time since they came together in 2004. Nothing much has changed except that Nocioni's minutes as a power forward on the floor are probably going to be cut down. Not that he should play power forward, but the man needs minutes to be effective.

I actually like Nocioni more than Deng because Nocioni can shoot the 3 and isn't afraid to make moves. Deng is what he is, which is pretty good, but I'm not sure that his production is worth 11-12 million dollars.

-Speaking of power forwards, Tyrus Thomas needs minutes to be effective. Never been a big fan especially considering we drafted Lamarcus, and I do like Gooden and think he needs to be playing 28-30 mpg, but it'd be a waste to have Tyrus average less than 20 minutes a game for the 3rd year in a row.

In my semi-real ideal basketball world, we'd consolidate Tyrus Thomas, Luol Deng, and Kirk Hinrich into a young inside scoring power forward like Al Jefferson and put out this playoff-tuff lineup

1: Rose, Gordon
2: Gordon, Hughes, Sefolosha
3: Nocioni, Sefolosha
4: Jefferson, Gooden
5: Noah, Gooden, Gray

-Gordon putting up 22 ppg
-Jefferson putting up 19 ppg/11 rpg
-Rose doing 13/7

On offense It would be
...Rose splitting the floors and getting inside or
...kicking to BG or Nocioni on the outside or
...Jefferson down low.

On defense it would be
...Noah fronting the middle, looking to play that help-side defense
...Sefolosha playing a harrassing Scottie Pippenish-role on the perimeter

I think that lineup would be mandated to win 45 at least. won't happen, but who knows. I don't know what to think about John Paxson anymore. Summer's young, so is this team.



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Intro to Psychogeography by Howard F. Stein

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/03/2008 07:48:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

Holy crap, I think I've found a way to bridge my interest in neuroanthropology/psycho anthropology and urban planning.

It's called...psychogegoraphy! At least, it's name sounds like the thing I should be interested in.

And apparently it's old enough to be talking about the Soviet Union as if it were a current entity.

The Bullet-Point Introduction:

What is Psychogeography? "Psychogeography consists of the representation of developmental time and the playing out of its vicissitudes on the stage of space. Space is often used as metaphor—sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally—for time. Time becomes space's drama; space becomes time's stage."

"The study of psychogeography begins with the still radical Kantian assumption that reality is not neutral, not simply “there” for the seeing. Psychogeography is a study of how and why we mediate reality with the contents of our psyches. Culture is not automatically adaptive to or even accurately perceptive of the real social and physical world. Spatial “otherness” is largely projective (La Barre, 1972; Devereux, 1980; DeMause, 1982)"

"Fantasies about the body and the family are transmuted into descriptions of one's own group, other groups, into shapes and features of the world."

"Psychogeography begins with the vicissitudes of selfhood in a human body within a family context, and proceeds outward to encompass the world."

Example: "We animate other peoples and places with aspects of ourselves. Often more literally than figurative, nations become mother- and fatherlands and fusions of the two. We speak of a “family” of nations or of mankind. Enemies become “cancers” which threaten to invade or corrupt the “body” politic. People experience the integrity of the body as coextensive with the integrity of group (e.g., national) boundaries."

"Psychogeography is a study of (a) the role of unconscious factors in the perception of natural and social reality, and (b) the consequences of that perception, i.e., how attributes of the psyche, once projected onto the world, become the basis for action in the world."

Fascinating Tidbits and Reflections:

1) This is a discipline bound up in borders, boundaries, lines, either-ors, rules, standards, insides, outsides, familiarities, and others. The sense of "Self" is defined partly based on who we think we are NOT.

"One's personal boundaries come to be felt as coextensive with and bound up with the fate of the geopolitical boundaries of one's group. Aggression is mobilized in defense of the self (Rochlin, 1973), in the service of keeping a sense of goodness and completeness and safety inside, repudiating in oneself disavowed parts and impulses, putting these disavowed aspects into the enemy, intensifying them in the enemy, engaging them through the enemy, combatting them in the enemy, and restoring what the enemy is seen to have taken away."

2) Despite borders and walls being constantly drawn, we seem to always believe that we can be infiltrated upon and imperiled by that enemy.

"The hallucination that governs the military realm is that the enemy is threateningly close to you, even if he is in reality thousands of miles away. His psychic proximity overrides all mere geographical facts. He attracts your attention and obsesses your unreasoning process just like the “loved one” who is wall-to-wall Breast."

3) There are shared bounaries and fantasies, which hold things for a group together.

"Myths and related phenomena are group-accepted images which serve as further screening devices in the defensive and adaptive functions of the ego. They reinforce the suppression and repression of individual fantasies and personal myths. A shared daydream is a step toward group formation and solidarity and leads to a sense of mutual identification on the basis of common needs."

Myths and these images essentially act as the social memory for a group. In popular discourse, TV sitcoms and movies act as the models and images, from which people negotiate boundaries and form fantasies.

4) The definition of the enemy makes things in our world much easier to define.

"The ability to focus one's anxiety also makes one feel safer; as a group solution to the free-floating anxiety of everyday life, the availability of a common enemy not only allows one to know where to look for danger but prescribes precisely where one should look."

In the same way that numbers are used to model the world, defining our enemies are used to model our world. And just the way numbers seem definite, they are in actuality achieved imperfectly, just as the way enemies seem definite, but they are defined imperfectly.

5) Essentially, we like to project the worse traits we see in ourselves onto our enemies. Apparently our enemies have a monopoly on those terrible traits, while we don't.

A Nazarene physician interviewed by the author said of the countryside in relation to the urban form.

'You're in God's Country here. Peaceful, quiet, decent. None of that crazy stuff you find Back East [a common phrase] or on the West Coast. God's Country is right here in the center; Back East and everything to the West is the Devil's Country. Broken families, drugs, hippies, wierdos of all kinds. Here you have some space to yourself, some privacy, not wall-to-wall people. I wouldn't want to go there. I wouldn't want my children to grow up there; it's not healthy.'

"In this psychogeographic depiction of the official division of labor between regions, respondents never utter a word about the high rates of alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, homicide, incest, and the like within the region; instead, the group myth of safety, freedom, and piety becomes a reality more compelling than reality itself, and what cannot be accepted about that reality magically becomes the distinguishing feature of the outgroups to the East and West."

The country's good traits are emphasized, and exaggerated while the urban side's good are de-emphasized and underplayed.

6) With us defining our enemies to be these people with all the bad traits, it seems that no matter what they do, barring a dramatic shift towards "our" ideology they will almost always remain the static, unchanging enemy.

"Much as we wish the Soviets to change, we depend upon them not to change. For the prospect of peace would eliminate their availability as the externalized focus and (symbolic) object or target of anxiety."

This ideology is this conservative cousin of the mushroom-dropping folks who like to explore the "exotic, unchanging other." The premise is still that we still have the good traits in abundance while they have all the bad ones.

"To take the point further: Americans prize “freedom,” a freedom which the Soviets are perceived as menacingly and unremittingly trying to take away. The U.S.S.R. serves as the image of what might be called The Great Depriver. Surely religiously devout Americans do not possess rebellious, irreverent impulses: it is those atheist Russian Communists (who are contending with resurgent Orthodoxy at home) who are bent upon taking away American religion. While Americans look longingly at the putative paternalism and maternalism of Japanese corporations, and reinstate religious fundamentalism and political authoritarianism at home, we keep our illusion of precious freedom by accusing the Soviets all the more of seeking to take it away."

This applies to today's popular discourse on China, North Korea, Cuba, etc.

7) "Scholars, not unlike political and military strategists, spend entirely too much time and effort divining the nature and characteristics of the adversary, and devote virtually no time or effort into exploring the relationship between adversaries, together with the investment of each (and all) participant in that relationship."


1) I'm not sure that I like the definition and implications of the "ethnic group." In fact, it's kind of a nuisance, especially done by a bunch of white guys, people who have never been considered "outsiders" to the degree that racial and ethnic "groups" experience.

"George DeVos (1975, p. 9) defines an ethnic group as “a self-perceived group of people who hold in common a set of traditions not shared by the others with whom they are in contact.”

"Max Weber introduced the concept of ethnic honor: “belief in a specific ‘honor’ of their members, not shared by outsiders, i.e., the sense of ethnic honor” (1961, p. 307)."

While there is some type of "pride" that some people do engage in, it's not some empty-ass "honor" to just be part of a racial or ethnic group. Being part of a group is not something people celebrate as an honor or achievement.

As a message boarder once put it in the context of relating Jewish performances of ethnic pride after the Holocaust to current performances of ethnic pride in the context of the United States, celebrating the ethnicity is like saying a fuck-you back to an imagined otherized but centralized dominant, oppressive people. It's saying that no matter what "you" did to my ancestors, we've survived, I'm here and fuck you again. It's mostly imaginary-broad enemy-driven rather than "self-driven".

Just as its definitions and gradual proliferations were for purposes of violence, there is still violence inherent in it, only in this age of globalizing interconnectedness, the power and violence has seemingly transferred from the enemy group to that ethnic and racial group.

Summing up...

There is definitely a lot more to the article.

However, the discourse seems to be bound up in bordership and boundaries. There are definitely implications for international and domestic studies and conflict resolution. I was hoping to find something about spatiality or space and psychology within the urban form, as I am interested in those ambiguous open spaces, garbage, and graff, and hopefully within this discipline I can eventually happen across it. I like the quip about the proximities of enemies because it never seems like they are too far away from you.

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Beijing Kicking Out Foreigners

by B.J. Delas Armas on 7/01/2008 07:02:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

"Aparently they need to get a higher class of foreigners for the games." - 'Yell

Yesterday, at about 7:30 PM Pacific Time, I get a call from one, Daniel Larson, Oakland native with the sailor's discourse, Leon Powe's classmate, future mother-fuckin' Golden Gate University Law school graduate.

He says he's in LA! Back from another year at Beijing. Just like he said on the facebook, but I rarely take anyone's promises seriously on facebook.

During his time there, he carved up a niche as an English language teacher. He went from university students to rich kids. He had enough money to rent an apartment and pile it on when he got here. He even got some of that live orange-tang. This motherfucker was living the life.

Then they tell him that they won't be able to renew his visa.

So he was here. First thing he did was go to the 99 cents store to buy a pair of socks and toothpaste. 99 Cents store is unabomber crazy ridic. Went to eat expensive-ass hipster Mexican food, with 'Yell putting his Negro O Modelo in a fuckin' wine glass. Then simmered down with a string of NBA Street 2 games.

I just found it interesting this when I read in the LA Times this article about Chinese visas not being renewed.

Turns out the 'Yell is just one small part of a mass eviction. So I was basically chilling with a live-walking news story yesterday.

If he renewed his visa, it would've cost him $1100 US dollars as opposed to the $20 he usually paid. Somewhat out of range for a guy who got his money under the table and in cash.

Apparently, during the olympics people will now have to walk around at all times with their papers. Now that's immigration enforcement to the max. Kinda ironic that the borders are getting tighter at a time when they want to show their connection to the international community.

The rich international community.

This was supposed to be a big coming out party in terms of certifying itself as a cosmopolitan globalized middle-class burgeoisie-lifestyle and experience. Stadiums were to be built, new infrastructure and transportation was developed, slums were to be cleared.

But everything seems to have been sour so far: from the international torch relays being crashed by protestors to the fact that tourism is down.

Maybe it's my reactionary response to American media discourse, but I feel bad for Beijing in relation to the rest of the world cities who've hosted Olympics. Didn't seem like those other cities had to go through half the crap that they have.

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