Sunday, January 29, 2006

The vacation from complexity is over

The black and white days of good and evil, my side or the terrorists' is over. We can't hide from it any more, the world is actually more complex than a scantron form and we've come to the point where one word answers won't work.

Democracy, for lack of a better word, or rather the word that Bush has been using, is taking root in the middle east. But the elections in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, and now the Palestinian territory have all brought forth radical, religious, fundamentalists to power. The people have spoken and they have asked for American hating, religiously narrow, overly conservative, military leaders. The kind of militant groups that make the propped up dictators we've been peddling for decades look like Jimmy Carter.

In no way do I think we should go back to the Shah or any other American condoning, corrupt leader. But Bush has forgotten to be careful for what he asks for, because he just got it: An Afghanistan that is electing itself back to a warlord lead fiefdom; an Egypt that tried to act democratically to receive better trade deals but just voted for the party that backs Hamas; an Iraq that is bent on splitting apart and a Shiite majority that has sad it will side with Iran if America attacks it; a Lebanon electing itself back into chaos; an Iran that is out the prove the Holocaust didn't exist, Israel should be wiped off the map, and Nuclear weapons are their solution; and finally a Palestine that has just purposely cut itself off from the rest of the world by electing the worse of two parties because the worse party was more violent but less corrupt and actually collected the garbage.

I think Bush was right when he said that all people want democracy. I see how that makes sense. Democracy keeps governments honest with their people and doing the bidding of those people. But Bush forgot to take into account what would happen when those people hate you and most everything else that you stand for. How do you fight a country for doing what you wanted it to do. Bush basically asked, if you want to destroy us, could you at least take a vote on it first? Well the people have voted, and they are voting for an Islamic Empire from Spain to Asia with the immediate end of Israel and the eventual destruction of the United States.

I'll never forget the image I saw on TV in my bedroom in Chicago the morning of 9/11, not of the towers falling down or the people running and screaming, but of the celebrating Palestinians on the streets. They quickly quieted down when they realized what being televised meant and Yassir Arafat even donated blood. (I pity the poor soul that received his blood if no one in the red cross was decent enough to throw it out.) But that, that right there is all the proof I will ever need that everything else is an act, a mask to keep us thinking we have a chance to change their mind, that deep down they really do like us. Why shouldn't they? We're nice people.

Yes, there are genuinely good people in Palestine, there are genuinely good people in every culture that just want peace and harmony. I believe this. But the majority of the Palestinians and most Arabs and Persians want Israel and America destroyed. We should never forget that no matter what we want to dream. I'm sure most of you disagree, that most of you think the majority want just, at worst, to be left alone. But I think that is only the best. The world is not as small as we'd like it to be and no matter how close we're all related genetically (thanks National Geographic genome project), we have a long way to go before we even understand how to understand each other.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Because Oprah said it wasn't OK

I can't believe I'm still writing about this. Oprah had to have James Frey back on her show to chastise him, tell him he betrayed millions of readers, and basically call him a liar. This guy's really getting the PR shit kicked out of him. I'm not going to defend the "untruthiness" of his work especially because his main theme for how he should live his life is by how he judges things to be true or not, but why can't we let this shit go? We've got a news cycle filled with bad guys and bad stories to make us focus our hate on. But I guess we always want the light hearted villain in our lives too. Someone we can point to and say "I'm better than him." Linda Tripp was great for that! I guess it's cause we can't identify with Hamas or that unpronounceable leader of Iran Amenedijadihadedad. We need someone who we think could have been us but we're glad we're not. That's probably it. Right?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

You can't read this in China

In my travels across the country I've seen a multitude of different ads for Budweiser and other beers. In New York, Bud is a Giants fan, in Phili, it roots for the Eagels, and when I'm on the west coast, all of a sudden, they've been die hard Raiders fans since the team was created. Do they think I'm not seeing these other signs? Do they think they're getting away with some sort of faux-sincerity to win my heart over?

If you type my name in, this blog is what comes up. But I am willing to bet it will not come up if you search it from
Now that Google is relaunching it's efforts in China and creating they have agreed to China's demands of censoring any information not deemed suitable. This includes things like Tianamen Square, certain civil rights sites and so on. Before, if a Chinese person could get access to Google's American site he would be able to search for anything and the Chinese government would filter out the sites. Page titles would come back, but none of them would be accessible. Google has now decided to filter itself, deciding which words to flag and which to let go only to have the Chinese government call them if they feel they're being too lax. Now the "bad" sites don't even appear, just a notice saying some sites were deleted.

Does Google think I'm not going to notice they conveniently are leaving American values on America's shores? Does Google think that WE are not going to notice?

As of today Google's mantra, "Do no evil," is hypocritical.

Yahoo and Microsoft have already kowtowed to China's demands to get access to their rapidly growing economy. This internet big three could easily team together and demand certain rights that they're not even asking for now, but they capitulate and they collect their money. If Yahoo is going to keep handing over sensitive documents to the Chinese government like the ones they handed over last year that put a NYTimes reporter in Chinese jail for exposing Chinese corruption, I don't think any pact will be happening soon.

Google says it's not offering it's easily searchable gmail or it's blogs (this blog service in fact) because that censoring would be going to far. They've already gone too far. And I hope China does see this, and reads it, before it sensors it.

Yes, I'm still going to use they're search engine, and their blog service, and their email. But there are other ways to have my voice heard than a boycott and I plan on using them. I hope you do too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sorry James, You're no Dave

In reference to my earlier post entitled "Because Oprah said it was OK." if James Frey had just done what Dave Eggers did in his "memoir," A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I think we wouldn't have a problem. Boys and Girls please turn your texts, aka A.H.W.o.S.G., to "Pretend it's Fiction" under the Acknowledgements section and read thoroughly. For those of you who need to read it twice, please go ahead and do so. Thank you for your time.

Friday, January 20, 2006

My prescription needs a refill

Cleaning up my room as I prepared for the move, I came across my long forgotten pack of Iosat pills. They're good till around next year at this time. These pills were handed out to everyone living in the secondary blast radius of Indian Point. First blast radius being the area where people will just be incinerated. Indian Point is my local nuclear power plant and the pills are to keep my kidney's from melting. Or is it my liver? I get 7 pills for me and 7 for any survivor I've found. I searched my wallet and found the first two in my "secret" zipped compartment.

Indian Point is the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the nation and has been closed and opened so many times due to leaks and violations it reminds me of my crappy Chinese restaurant up in Hamilton, NY where I went to college. And because of that college, Indian Point and I have become well acquainted. I would pass it every time on my way up north. One time I was passing it while listening to the radio as an announcer said there was a radiation leak and it just happened to be raining at the time. I closed my windows and air vent and held my breath, futiley of course because that wouldn't have done anything and also because the nuclear steam leak turned out not to be hazardous. (Though I wonder how any nuclear steam can be classified as such.)

There was a documentary done on Indian Point by HBO seeing as how the third blast radius out of Indian Point contains the nation's largest city. Sorry guys, no Iosat pills for you. They interviewed my town's sheriff to find out how our evacuation would work. Single lane road out of the area, yeah that'll work. And it turns out security on the plant is so lax, basically anything can crash right into from land or air, and start the chain reaction.

I guess my question is, if oil won't last and nuclear is going to mean dealing with this, at least for now, why are we so stuck against solar, wind, biofuel, and other renewable energies? Is it because they don't have lobbyists in DC? Is it because windfarms are as "not in my backyard" an issue as nuclear powerplants are? Is it because initial costs mean people won't pay for them? If my choice is between holding my breath as I pass Indian Point and crossing my fingers (which I'll be doing tomorrow on my way to Bear Mountain) versus a higher energy bill (which will go down as infrastructure is in place and supplies become mainstream) I think I'll take the eye soar windfarm.

I wonder where I go to get a refill on my pills.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A new member of the family

As if driving down to Lynchburg Virginia wasn't enough to see good looking babies. This last weekend I drove up to Boston Massachussetts to see Teddy Kilduff Ginsburg.

My first cousin Richard, and his beautiful bride Teri, have had their first son, Teddy. He's the first of the new generation.

My grandmother is now a great-grandmother. My aunt is now a grandmother. And my mom is now a great-aunt. We are all extatic and Teddy is of course the cutest baby I've seen in at least 2 weeks. (2 blogs down) He's 10 months old as of two days ago with the biggest bluest eyes with the cutest blondest hair. When you look at Richard (holding Teddy) you wonder where he got it from. But mom swears Teddy looks exactly like Richard from the back. Swears to god she says.

I guess I'm on a baby spree. So if any of you have any baby's that need exploiting on my blog just let me know and I'll be happy to pop down for a Jaime seal of approval.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Because Oprah said it was OK

I just finished reading A Million Little Pieces by James Frey about 45 seconds ago. I borrowed it from a friend over New Years who said it was great (Thanks Nick) and I agree. It was arresting and original and written in a new way for me that helped push the envelope of how one can deliver human emotion through the written word.

But around page 350, news started breaking that the story of James wasn't true. That he had fabricated his Jail time and other facts for effect. I followed the story as I was finishing the book. I was already past the point of no return, already on James' side. His memoir, his story, was already a part of me and was looking at things through his perspective, not through the eyes of The Smoking Gun's website (a division of court TV) who broke this tasty little morsel of gossip.

Last night was the climax for this story when he appeared on Larry King. And though I still had about 40 pages to go I decided to watch.

The central theme I think of James' life is to see truth. Truth is not fact, to be sure, but something must ring true to you to believe it. And for James that meant that though he had compressed time, changed names, ages, and specifics, his message is what was true. And I wouldn't dispute it unless it was for effect. If it's for better reading, shame on you James for warping something that needed no embellishment. But I don't know where that line was, I don't think I'll ever know. He could have stayed true to himself the entire time, with or without the changes. I won't go into specifics out of respect for the book so whoever reads this and hasn't finished or started A Million Little Pieces has a chance to read it in peace.
At the end of the Larry King show, Larry said he was going to go over his normal time because Oprah was on the phone. The reason James' book is so big is because Oprah picked it for her book of the month club in October. And questions kept arising: will Oprah stand by her decision, follow James' lead of sticking to truth, not fact? Because it was a memoir, not an autobiography. And she did. She said the book doesn't change how much it can help those in need of it, and reveal to those who want to open themselves up to what kind of world addiction can be. Frank McCourt the man who basically reinvented the memoir genre, has not come under this kind of scrutiny, nor has any other memoir writer. Nor do I want them to. It is a subjective style that should be held up to the standard of truth, not fact.

I guess I just have to ask myself. Do I feel lied to?

No I don't.

Because whether what happened to James happened exactly as he wrote it or how it exactly actually happened, I believe the same James would be before us. No different.

And I'm happy Oprah and I see eye to eye on this. I hope those of you who take her word for Law, and I know who you are, take what she said last night, as what I am saying here today, for a good thing. Honor truth over facts because facts, black and white, come without an agenda, to be used as the person telling them sees fit. Truth is always good and always well intentioned and always the quickest path in life. A lie cannot contain truth, but it can contain facts. I have seen this too many times in politics and botched friendships. (Once is enough frankly). Honor truth and you will find the world a lot more welcoming than if you just stick to the facts.

Friday, January 06, 2006

What I learned this New Years

Hello all, sorry I've been gone for so long but driving 1000 miles while still partying it up takes some time. Plus, being away from not only my blog and your blogs but also a computer at all (not to mention that bottle of Jameson) has left me a bit off for writing so please be gentle with me.

For New Years I drove down to Philly for my annual college roommate reunion. We've been doing it since 2001 and we never miss it. Usually in NY or SF, this time in Philly since one of them is at UPENN and this will be his last year there. Fingers crossed at least for it to be your last year NICK! And shut up, I know the Giants lost.

So here's the 4 of us, Jesse, Nick, Jon and Myself hunched over to fit under Jon's umbrella on our last day together in the horrible rain, desperate to get a pic of us together. And all we had was my camera phone. We went to this great bar called Chaucer's for New Year's which I recommend to anyone in the Philly area. I was wicked pissed and made friends with every Jew in the bar cause this one girl came up to me and had to ask if I was Jewish. I merely pointed to my rather obvious nose and she introduced me to the Cohens and Liebowitzes abound around me. And somehow we made it with the help of directions from random drunkards meandering the streets, one of which gave me a white balloon tied around my wrist somehow, thank you anonymous stranger, to Little Pete's, another recommendation, for the best cheesesteaks ever! It's amazing how many people like to talk to you more when you have a Happy New Year hat on, which I got from another stranger named Garth I think. Thanks Garth! Good times.

But of course the real highlight of my trip was to drive yet another 5 and a half hours southwest to Lynchburg, VA where I got to see Jenny and her new baby girl Bella Grace. She is such the cutie and here she is with Mama. Bella G is almost 3 months old now.

Once again, apologies for the quality but the cameraphone was all I had. Jenny's sister Meagan was there with her 5 year old Rosalind and her 11 month old Mason who is quite the cute little redneck when he sports his camouflage tshirt. He was totally fascinated with my beard and glasses and it broke my heart when he kept reaching for me as I left for my 8 hour journey back to NY. I got him to say "uh-oh" a lot. Basically all I did for my stay was enjoy Jenny's precious few minutes of free time and see, once again, how full time mommy work is. I don't know how you do it Jenny, you're proof that super-mom is a redundant word. So all ya'll trying to get in contact with Jenny, be patient, she's a little tied up at the moment.

So what I learned this New Years was, cherish your old friends as much as you can cause they can bring you back to the good ole times just when you need it and they're always great for making some new good ole times as well. And love the gift of life that you have, nothing drives that home more than a newborn who smiles right at you.

Anyway, there's plenty to be pissed at Bush about, worries in Israel, higher death rates in Iraq and plenty more to rant about. But for now, it's good to be back, and HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!