Sunday, June 29, 2008

What would you say if an Obama aide said their campaign would benefit from American deaths?

Presumably, there would be outrage in the media, blogs and elsewhere, but when John McCain's long-time friend and chief strategist said to Fortune Magazine that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto "saved" the McCain campaign in the NH primary and a terrorist attack on the U.S. would be to their advantage - there was hardly a peep. Funny how McCain supporters have not been outraged by one of our own theorizing how American deaths might serve the 'greater good' - presuming that electing McCain is the greater good.

Obama has at times been the teflon-candidate (nothing bad seems to stick), but nobody complains about the constant attacks from conservative talk radio, YouTube videos, news broadcast channels like FOX News (where Carl Rove now calls home) or the overly politicized pulpits of the tens of thousands of fundamentalist churches who have used race as a wedge and continue to berate Obama (and his wife) every chance they get. If a senior aide from the Obama campaign inferred that massive casualties in Iraq would 'be to their advantage' people would be rightfully outraged. One does not wish pain and suffering or openly court it in the press, but McCain seems to be surrounded by individuals who seem to find it perfectly acceptable; provided they are the ones doing the talking.

This most recent gaff is all the more interesting because it comes on the heels of last month's fiasco involving the notorious Texan millionaire, Clayton Williams. Clayton has made jokes about rape telling women "as long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it." McCain did cancel his appearance at the last minute but has kept the $300,000. Can you imagine the outrage and how racist phobias would be ignited if Obama took money from a friend who made a similar comment?

Is there a double-standard for Obama and McCain? Absolutely, but apparently it cuts both ways and depending on your personal sympathies these are either non-issues or outrages that infuriate. Take your pick.

Funniest Graduation Speech - Ever

Since my last post was a bit more intense than I expected and I like to think of myself as both a person of deeply held convictions as well as a person who enjoys a good laugh - I thought I would balance out my last post with this video of Lance Jabr speaking at his high school graduation.

Yale clearly made a mistake overlooking this student.

I initially saw this post on CityRag, but you can watch this video on the College Humor website by linking here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Give me your tired, your poor...

The Boston Globe is reporting that the Armenian Heritage Foundation has "cleared a major hurdle" in its effort to have a memorial on the Rose Kennedy Greenway to commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide which occurred just after the first World War and resulted in the death of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

When the memorial was originally proposed by the Armenian Heritage Foundation, there was nearly universal push-back out of concern that every block on the greenway would result in a different memorial. However, the proposed memorial will also commemorate Boston as a city with a proud history of offering "hope and refuge for immigrants seeking to begin new lives".

After reading the article in today's Boston Globe, I'm interested to see the monument in person. Apparently the 12-sided geometrical sculpture is expected to open in the summer of 2009 and is being constructed in such a way that it will be able to be reconfigured each year to symbolize how immigrant communities continue to reshape our city and country.

I like the dual role of the memorial as both a tribute to immigrants and a somber reminder to those killed in a horrible genocide. The American public is very xenophobic at the moment and the debate about illegal immigration has shown an ugly and often racist streak that is not willing to acknowledge the reality of the situation or identify a realistic solution to the problem. This proposed monument embodies what I think we as Americans meant when we installed the plaque on the Statue of Liberty which says:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

I think that when a country allows itself to be ruled by fear, the results can be dangerous. I would not suggest that the United States would allow a genocide to result because of our current problems with immigrants and really all things pertaining to foreigners, but such horrible moments in human history can only come about when there is a deep distrust of "others". History is riddled with these lessons and we can look to the Nazi's in Germany looking to keep a 'pure' race (whatever that means), the horrible tragedies in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, or more recently the tragedies that continue in the Darfur region of the Sudan.

I know how great my country can be when we are at our best. I feel like Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt's quote "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" rings very true in the United States today. Although FDR was addressing the problems Americans were facing with the Great Depression, I think that the American public has been terrorized through half-truths and uncorroborated threats from the Bush administration into distrusting the rest of the world. So it is with anticipation that I wait for the new Armenian Genocide Memorial, because even if our society is not living up to our ideals, this memorial much like the Statue of Liberty will be tangible evidence of ideals Americans have upheld in the past and will hopefully strive to attain in our near future.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Milken Institute Ranks MA Simply the Best

Recently, Massachusetts was identified as the the top technology incubator for the third time by the Milken Institute. The Milken Institute, a CA-based think tank, identifies states that are fostering innovation and, theoretically, will reap the rewards from making those investments.

Another recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which came out last week addressed Massachuesetts global dominance in biotechnology and the life sciences industry, but cautioned that the state needed to continue to innovate and work with local businesses to fend off competition from other states and other parts of the world.

There are many reports that come out each year - often with conflicting results, but a constant is MA always at or near the top when it comes to ranking a state's commitment or focus on technology.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

100th post and still going strong

Back on October 8, 2007 when I started this blog I had no expectations and thought that my desire to capture my thoughts on this blog might fade after a few weeks or months. I've never been one to maintain a diary and my lack of focus when it comes to working out or learning Portuguese would indicate I have limited discipline, but here I am with my 100th post nearly 9 months later. Who would have ever guessed - certainly not me.

Looking through my past posts, I've noticed that I generally comment on local happenings here in Boston, MA, pop culture, humorous videos that catch my eye, travels (as infrequent as they've become), sports, politics and the occassional rant. I'm still quite the novice when it comes to blogging, but I've enjoyed maintaining this and hope that the next 100 entries are as entertaining / gratifying for me as the first.

I'm Voting Republican

This is a quick video clip that pokes fun at many conservative policies that over the years have become synonymous with the Republican party (e.g. anti-choice, pro big business, etc). It is over the top, but I think that even my more conservative friends and family will get a chuckle out of this one.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Greatest Sports Town in America

I'm not one for superstitions but in the past I've also hesitated to dwell on the recent good fortune that Boston sports fans have been able to revel since the New England Patriot's ended the city's championship drought in 2001, out of fear I might jinx the teams. However, last night's blow out by the Boston Celtics over the Los Angeles Lakers has given me pause to consider how this most recent championship has helped re-shape the Boston sports fan's psyche.

I'm not a die-hard sports fan, but collectively what these three teams have done (Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics) winning a total of 6 Championships in a span of 8 years must be a record. I have attended more celebratory parades in tribute to Boston teams winning championships than many cities have collected in their entire history.

Boston has always been a big sports town and maybe that is part of the recipe for their success. Fans and journalists alike are hard on the athletes and coaches and their scrutiny can be difficult to take especially when a team is not winning. However, since the start of the century, there has been a lot to be proud of and no doubt this will be looked back upon as the 'Golden Age' for Boston sports. I feel badly for Boston fans living from afar, because the intensity of the moment and the passion that is unleashed is powerful but temporary and if you are not here to appreciate it - you really are missing something special.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Pride

Boston Pride week culminated today with the annnual parade and block party. In my opinion the block party is the best part of the week long celebration. Each year I find the parade to be very, very boring. The few floats that are in the parade lack color and flair. Boston's pride parade is more about what churches and politicians are marching. Normally this makes it seem more like a protest than a parade but this week's news of Governor Deval Patrick's daughter coming out in Bay Windows article - "With Love and Pride" made this year's parade different.

Recently I was told that Gov. Patrick made history last year when he became the first sitting Governor of any state to march in a Pride Parade. This year his wife and daughter joined him. I know there are many who are not impressed by Deval Patrick, but I am not one of them. I thoroughly respect Patrick's commitment to supporting equality and not compromising in the face of adversity whether it is championing the right for all to marry or now showing that Governor or not - he stands by his lesbian daughter. Bravo Deval - you have my vote if you decide to run for re-election.
Pictures are courtesy of

Weekend in Newport

Last weekend we packed our bags and drove down to Newport, RI. Despite an ominous start with overcast skies and cooler than ordinary temperatures on Friday, the rest of the weekend was beautiful with temperatures in the 90s and plenty of sun. The pictures above are just a sampling of some of the beautiful mansions which dot the Newport coastline and much of the town.

I really like this seaside New England town which becomes a hub of activity from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Thousands flock to the town in the summer clogging the streets and filling the pubs and restaurants. It is one of those quintessential New England towns that is both fun and friendly despite the dour / boring image most people have of New Englanders.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

C'est tres bon!

The 2008 French Open did not disapoint even if the finals for both men and women lacked the drama and intensity of the 2008 Australian Open. Both Nadal and Ivanovich dominated their adversaries. Nadal's thumping of Federer was surprising in so much that I can never recall seeing a match where Federer lost 6-0 in a set. It is worth mentioning that with Nadal's victory, he ties Bjorn Borg's record of 4 consecutive wins at the French Open and barring any illness or injury it looks like a 5th consecutive win is likely in 2009 - Amazing.

Unfortunately, American's had a disapointing showing at the 2008 French Open with only Rob Ginepri really showing any promise. By contrast, the French (all too often absent from their home tournament) showed in great numbers even with Australian Open finalist Tsonga out due to a knee injury. Indeed one of my favorite matches came in the semifinals when Gael Monfils gave Roger Federer a run for his money. I'll continue to keep my eyes on Monfils who seems to cover the court with the same speed that distinguishes Nadal. Now if he can just learn to hit the ball like Rafael.

Now all eyes will turn to Wimbledon, a surface more friendly to Federer. However, both Nadal and Djokovic will be worthy adversaries looking to unseat Federer, and for the first time in recent memory, it looks distinctly possible that they just might. We will have to wait and see when the tournament begins in a few weeks time. Until then, I'll continue to dream about travelling to visit and watch the fortnight of world-class tennis in person as opposed to on ESPN.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Off to Newport

Friday afternoon I am heading to Newport, RI and the forecast looks promising with lots of sun and warmth. I first visited Newport in May of 1991 when several of my friends were graduating from college. Sixteen of us crammed into two hotel rooms, and we spent a couple of nights carousing and making fools of ourselves, enjoying the last few weeks we would all be together before they graduated. A few years later, my uncle hosted his wedding reception in downtown Newport. I still have fond memories of the wedding, reception and the brunch on the following morning. More recently, I visited Newport with my family in 2006 for a weekend in May. Despite these visits and a handful of day trips to Newport, I still have never done the Cliff Walk so I am going to make a concerted effort to do this on Saturday. We'll see if it actually happens, because I'm a terribly lazy traveller.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Obama claims nomination

Tonight Barack Obama made history by claiming the Democratic Party's nomination. His speech was more moving than any I have heard with the possible exception of his speech at the 2004 DNC in Boston.

He is clearly an orator who can articulate his message and motivate masses. These skills will be essential to his campaign as he moves forward and faces John McCain in the general election, but I believe in Obama's message of change and say, "Yes we can".