Saturday, June 23, 2007

I Touched Obama: Babel, Barack

I watched the movie before I went to the event, of my first time ever seeing Barack in person. It was not at all planned. My Netflix movies had stopped coming, I had switched to one at a time from three at a time. I figured maybe there were credit card problems. But no, they had sent a movie in December, and had never got it back, and I have no idea how that happened. And months had gone by. Then a friend said you can watch movies online at Netflix these days. I am like, really? And so I log on, and end up writing to them saying I have not been receiving movies for weeks, maybe months. Months was correct. They refunded for two months, and sent me Babel.

Cheryl Steed was trying hard to get me to buy my ticket for the event. I wanted to. Finally I did while digging through my big snail mail bucket. I dug out a credit card from months back that had not been activated yet. I went to the local library to buy my ticket. Online. Internet was down at my place, that rarely happens. We got faster than cable broadband. Slightly.

I was in a mood to go jog. Have not done that in a long, long, long time. Although I walk a whole lot, like all the time. Only a few weeks back, I walked from Rudy's near Times Square to my place south of Prospect Park, my second time doing so. But that is not enough. I am at a phase where I want to jog and jaw much more. Get back into the groove of facetime. Regain. Instead I decided to watch Babel. It was too appealing. Babel, Barack.

Most people think, my heart is clean, I am not a racist, I don't dislike brown and black people and yellow people: we live in a color coded world. I have a few black friends, blah, blah, blah. But it is not about clean and unclean hearts. Although that it is. It is about cross-cultural communication, and I mean cross-cultural in a broader sense, like Babel, communicating with the other, the deaf, the woman, the very young. That is what global warming, and terrorism and nuclear proliferation are about. Cross-cultural communication. Barack might have been born biracial. But that guy is white. I am telling you. I have read up on him. His software is white. His absent father was black, true, African on that, but the mother with him was white. His blackness does not come from family, it comes from the world, growing up. Barack Obama is biracial by birth, white by upbringing, Black to the world, black by marriage, and postracial by appeal. He is African American without the hyphen. The guy is part Third World, which is where I come in.

You mess up with cross-cultural communication when you put your total energy into just trying harder and harder to make yourself clearer and clearer. The strong metaphor that comes to mind is the American tourist talking loud. If you talk loud enough, maybe they will finally understand some English.

Cross-cultural communication is about making very clear what you want to say, true. You have to know what you want to say. But then step two is to throw everything out the window. All your assumptions, everything you want to say. That is the hard part. You get asked to step outside your worldview. The only you know, the one you carry around no matter where you go. To step aside and try and get into the other worldview. That does not mean you have to let go, and do as others want you to do. You still have the option to come right back into your world, and say and do and act as you get dictated by your worldview. But it helps to step out for communication purposes.

And culture is not static, it is not like, okay, so I dug out this fossil, and studied it, and how many more are there? Cultures mix, there is a relentless mishmash going on. Kind of like a kaleidoscope. The stuff is being shaken all the time. The body of knowledge is in major fluidity. It is not even knowledge. There's information, there are concepts, ideas, emotional bonds that stand like prisms, coloring all that pass through.

It is so appropriate that I watched Babel a few hours before I met Barack Obama for the very first time. My first opportunity to meet him was a better one. It was free. It was when Fernando Ferrer ray for Mayor. I read the email a few hours too late. Very uncharacteristic of me. But that is the way it was meant to be. Not reading an email on time can also lead to miscommunication.

Obama Was In Town And I Missed It

But then I meet Barack on a daily basis. I follow him through the prism called Google News. He and Hillary stand next to each other on the page, there is a vertical divide between their headlines.

Barack is an image in my mind. Some of that is me. It is tribal. I tell myself, he is Third World, I am Third World. It is blood. But then there is another part of me that wants to think politics is like astronomy. The stars will still be there, with or without me. You try and shoot for objectivity. As much as is possible. But then this particular star is in the realm of quantum physics. That which you measure, you impact. Objectivity is not possible. Physics is an inadequate metaphor for politics. The human realm is way more complicated. There are way many more dimensions you are dealing with.

It was an amazing event to go to. Ben Harper who I had never heard of before performed. The warm up act. Since I had seen so many videos of Barack, I figured I will not be surprised when he speaks. But listening to him and watching him was an intense emotional experience. I was hanging onto every word. He did something to me. Lines I had heard before on online video, read before struck at me with the ferocity of freshness. I saw his skin. And it was more a conversation than a speech. He was so in tune with the audience. He would snap up the stray remarks with a frog's tongue for the firefly. And finally shaking his hand felt so normal. Like I do it everyday. He just comes across as so relaxed. He is very comfortable in his skin.

"We will deliver New York to you for the primary," I said.

"With your help," he said.

What I really wanted to say was, "You give us Iowa, we will give you New York."

I think it is very possible. New York can be had. It might not look that way, but then Hillary was new material in 2000. Barack has to work to take the lead in the national polls, and then New York can be had.

High Energy Generation Obama Event: I Am Hooked

Cheryl Steed was trying to get me onto the committee at the first Generation Obama event itself. Then once again when I called her. Today finally she got me. She said 30 of them had had a conference call with Obama. And I am like, I would have liked to be part of that. She bribed me with that snippet, and it worked. I signed up.

I have been going to all sorts of political events in the city since I started living here. But now Obama gives me a focus I never had. I don't want to just show up for events. I want to be an insider. I want to be at the strategy meetings. And now on I don't want to go to any other events. It is now between my tech startup and Obama. Both go together, more than I realized before.

After Cheryl signed me up, I started working the room. Many I worked told me I was good at it.

At one level I feel I have been online and alone for so many years now, I am having to try and regain facetime for me. I used to be super at it. Obama might be just the exercise program I need. Most of the top Obama people in the city know me by now. My blog really seems to get people. I wonder why. I think I know, maybe. I blog like I had direct access to Obama's ears.

Isabel. I also saw her at the first event. Bruno. Jeremy.

After the event was over, there was another round of foraging the room. I met these four Africans.

"For me it is tribal. You think I care about health care? And education? And Iraq? All that is bonus," I told them. They really dug that. One guy got ecstatic.

I met these three Adams, all went to grad school together, one British, one from Ohio, one from Maryland, two of them work at the UN, and when they were at Columbia, a friend of mine was there too who they knew, Dipta Shah, now in DC, we talk regularly, small world. One said his friend now works for UNMIN, the UN mission in Nepal. I told him I know the top guy with that outfit, Ian Martin. And now another guy I know, Eritrean Samuel Tamrat, has been appointed second in command.

And then you come downstairs, and most people have left. And these are all key people. The movers shakers, the after party people. Jeff Kurzon.

Knock, Knock, Knocking On Heaven's Door

Terrence Yang. His email address I had seen on my screen a few times. We bonded fast. We had Rocky Chin in common. Rocky came to me by way of Curtis Chin, the founder of Asian Americans for Dean in 2004. We proceeded to walk about 10 blocks north to the Kemia Bar, 44th and 9th. That is where the after party was at. It was such a blast.

On the way to Kemia, Terrence - he grew up in LA, went to Harvard Law - coolly reveals to me that he is a Harvard classmate of Barack and I was floored. Not only that, he said he was one of the three Harvard Law people to go start work at the law firm in Chicago where Barack started, the firm where Barack met his wife. Terrence knows the wife as well. "She is way more impressive," he said. Terrence is now an in-house lawyer for Merrill Lynch. Before he left for the evening, he told me he was going to hook me up with some angel investor types. Barack, I am in.

After a little snack meal with Terrence, Bruno, Jeff - I promised Jeff I was going to show for his MeetUp Sunday, he bribed me by saying some European filmmakers will be there; he is ethnic Armenian, and he works for the New York office of that same law firm - and Eva - from Switzerland - I went over to the other room.

Cheryl has spent three and a half months backpacking in India. She has studied Buddhism. She has black hair. She is slim. She could pass for an Indian. "That's my song," she said and proceeded to dance. And she had been smoking a hookah the entire time. Who smokes hookah? This was a hookah bar. She told me hookah bars were all the fad in the city.

The place played so much Indian music. I am like, wow. Hookah, Hindi songs. What more can you ask for? Cheryl said she had invited Barack to the after party - she is one of the top six people on the Generation Obama team - and he had declined saying he is going to turn into "a pumpkin."

I am at an all name and no money phase in life right now. I was trying to take Terrence to the 99 cents pizza place by the 41st and 9th. Bruno vetoed the idea. That guy does hedge fund.

Laura was there. It felt so good to catch up. She is a San Francisco transplant, new in town. Her roomie Sophy who looks like John Travolta's wife, what's her name?

"I went to Drinking Liberally last night," Laura said.

I had a long techie talk with Andrew. Middlebury grad, was with two startups, now works a mainstream corporate job that pays well but is not exciting. To do startup is a tiger tasting human blood. Amy, his sister's friend. I got invited to the sister's birthday party the following day in Williamsburg. Andy would be great to have on my team when I form my local team which is at least a year away.

Terrence equals money. Andy equals tech. Barack, I am in. I have been calling up high school friends from Kathmandu days spread across America scramping for some seed money while trying to network my way to angels in the city. New York City, the city of angels.

What's in there for me? I want to be friends with President Obama and his Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, and I want to stay in the private sector, and I want Obama to set a goal of a total spread of democracy by 2020, and I want to contribute the war with communications technology way. That is why I give time to Obama. That's my self interest. I want a total spread of democracy. JFK took us to the moon, Obama should give us a total spread of democracy by 2020.

A prize take-home was this flyer that had the email addresses of all the top organizers and numerous Obama groups in the city. They are all climbing onto this blog's mailing list. I am a digital democrat.

Where's the party at?

Miguel was in his shorts in the line outside at the very beginning. I told him it is all cool. Half an hour later, I spotted him making a second entry. He was wearing pants now. He said he lived close by. He noticed everyone was so dressed up. He had to run. He was sweating, gasping for air. He works for the Oxford University Press.

On my way back during the wee hours of morning from the bar, I did get myself two slices at the 99 cent pizza place. It is a ritual when I am in that part of town. You should check it out.

In The News

UN says Nepal Maoists have stepped up violence, abduction
Monsters and Maoist former rebels have stepped up their violent activities and abductions in recent months creating a climate of fear ..... violent disruption of political activities and other types of abuse. .... Some 24 people have been abducted since May 28 alone, interrogated, in some cases beaten and threatened before being released .... the abuse violated international human rights law, the peace agreement between the government and the former rebels and domestic laws. ..... The Maoists have defended the YCL activities by accusing its detractors of trying to undermine the Maoist party by highlighting 'isolated incidences' and ignoring the social work it undertakes.
Nepal's Maoist youth create "climate of fear"-UN Reuters AlertNet

Can a Third-Party Candidate Win? Wall Street Journal many third-party candidates introduce new campaign issues or take positions opposed by the two parties. Mr. Perot, for example, opposed free trade and railed against growing deficits. The Progressive Party in the early 20th century built support for women's suffrage and the income tax, and the Republican Party formed as an antislavery party in the 1850s. ...... And if elected, Mr. Bloomberg would face a Congress where he has no major base of support. .... the number of voters registered as independent has increased in all 27 states, to an average of 25% from 18%. ..... During Mr. Perot's 1992 campaign, nearly 41% of Americans agreed with the statement, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," compared with 51% who share that sentiment today ...... 43% of voters say they have a negative view of the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton. ..... The two-party system broke down in 1860 when there were four major candidates, allowing Abraham Lincoln to win the presidency with just 39% of the popular vote.
Whatever he's up to, Bloomberg's a breath of fresh air Houston Chronicle The day after announcing he had become an "independent," Bloomberg launched a goodbye missile toward the administration of George W. Bush. ..... He said that "we're in danger of losing our lead in many parts of science and medicine and education, economics." That doesn't leave us many things to be a leader of. ...... In a recent Rasmussen poll, nearly a third of Americans refused to identify with either party. Self-described independents ran about neck and neck with Republicans (31.5 percent) and not far behind Democrats (37.2 percent). ..... Major crime fell 30 percent, school-test scores rose, the welfare rolls declined, the budget went into surplus, and guess what: Bloomberg is now cutting some of those taxes he had to raise. Today, the city has more rich people than you can stomach. .... As the Bush administration enters its last 16 months of messing everything up
Barack Obama to Deliver Major Faith Speech This Weekend Christian Broadcasting Network this weekend the Red Sea is going to part. ..... his first major address on faith and politics as a presidential candidate.
Obama to address national meeting of the United Church of Christ WAND
Obama promises sweeping government reform Bloomington Pantagraph tough restrictions on lobbying by former political appointees. .... prohibiting political appointees in his administration from lobbying the executive branch for the remainder of his time in office. ..... "In our democracy, the price of access and influence should be nothing more than your voice and your vote," he said. .... ending the abuse of no-bid contracts, restoring objectivity to the executive branch and increasing public access to information

Obama Holds Fundraiser At NYC Rock Club WCBS-TV New York, NY Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's campaign is cultivating a youthful aura -- and that was the atmosphere at a Manhattan fund-raiser for the Illinois senator last night. .... he advocated increasing fuel efficiency in automobiles to 45 miles-per-gallon to combat global warming. .... The Senate voted Thursday to boost average fuel economy to 35 miles-per-gallon for cars, S-U-Vs and pickup trucks by 2020. ..... Obama challenged the crowd of about 500 people -- most of them under 40 -- to get involved in politics. .... One of Obama's rivals, John Edwards, was also in Manhattan last night. He emphasized fighting poverty in a speech to about 200 supporters at a grassroots campaign function.
Obama courts young supporters at NYC rock-club fundraiser Staten Island Advance, NY Save for the American flag backdrop and the presidential candidate onstage, Sen. Barack Obama's fundraiser could have been mistaken for a rock concert. Beer was served in plastic cups, the young crowd snapped photographs with cell phones, and a deafening roar of approval met Obama at the Hammerstein Ballroom — a venue known for rock, rather than rubber chicken. .... The event Friday night mirrored the Obama campaign's aura — youthful, polished and filled with idealistic talk of the future. .... The White House said Friday that President Bush has made closing the prison a priority. ..... Obama poked fun at his "politics of hope" refrain, joking, "They think I'm a hope peddler — a hope monger." ...... "He's young and energetic," said Amber Gaines, 31, of Belleville, N.J. "He has fresh ideas. He's not corrupt yet." ..... Edwards also addressed the prison in Guantanamo Bay: "On the first day I'm president of the United States, if it's still open, I will close Guantanamo," he said.
Bam & Edwards hit city for funds New York Daily News, NY Democrats Barack Obama and John Edwards hustled for New York dollars last night, rushing to boost their donation tallies before the close of the latest presidential fund-raising period. ...... Obama drew about 1,200 donors to the Hammerstein Ballroom, with standing room going for $100, preferred seats for $250 and a VIP reception with the man himself for $500. ........ admission to an Edwards party selling for as little as $15 a head. .... Obama swept into town yesterday after a New Hampshire speech on his proposed ethics reforms. His fans here said they gravitated to him for his freshness and authenticity. ...... "Bloomberg was a Democrat. He became a Republican because he couldn't win a Democratic primary. He's never been, I think, comfortable with the Republican Party. He's too sensible for that," Obama said

Lessons Learned as Obama Shepherds Volunteers New York Times, United States Brooklyn for Barack, NYC4Obama, the Audacity of Park Slope ...... a sophisticated group of young professionals skilled in marketing, organizing, Web design and other useful areas .... perhaps more than any other campaign this cycle, his campaign is relying on grass-roots involvement in New York and elsewhere to turn out voters. ...... the Obama campaign is making its ability to mobilize large numbers of volunteers central to its campaign ethos ..... Obama, who was a grass-roots organizer in his youth, places value on door-to-door, neighborhood-by-neighborhood campaigning. In a recent conference call with 400 volunteer leaders, he gave tips for canvassing (“stay hydrated,” and “don’t just talk but listen”). ..... many of the volunteers who fanned out across New York City during the campaign’s “Walk for Change” said they felt that they were creating a movement. ..... the Clinton campaign said it had no fear of losing New York. “We’re gratified that poll after poll shows Hillary leading the primary in New York overwhelmingly
Picking Up Where Dean Left Off New York Times The Obama campaign, along with several of his rivals, is hoping to pick up where Mr. Dean’s presidential bid left off – at least where political creativity is concerned – by seizing on the power of the Internet to raise money, stir excitement and mobilize supporters across the country.

Dell Receives another NASDAQ Delisting Notice for failure to file forms related to earnings reports. ...... In May, Dell filed a request for an extension of its conditional listing. Its audit committee is investigating Dell’s finances. ..... Dell operates its largest manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Dell receives delisting notice from NASDAQ TechJournal South
Dell Warned Stock May Be Removed From NASDAQ KXAN-TV
Global trade talks collapse New Zealand Herald The United States and the European Union, representing rich nation interests, and Brazil and India, for the developing world, were quick to blame the other side ...... the G4 group of trade powers. .... the near six-year-old WTO negotiations -- seen as a bulwark against creeping protectionism -- deep differences over how far to open up agricultural and industrial markets and cut rich nation farm subsidies. ....... the round aims to lift millions out of poverty through more trade. But it has faced problems from the start, mainly over agriculture, which is a highly sensitive political issue almost everywhere. ...... Washington has demanded that any deal that significantly cuts US farm subsidies must open new export markets around the world in agriculture, manufacturing and services. ...... Brazil and India said Washington was not ready to go far enough to warrant more concessions on their part in manufacturing goods or in lowering barriers to imports of US farm goods. ..... the EU and US positions are converging. ..... "If a good deal is possible on services this will go some way to compensate US and EU disappointment over the quality of what is on offer in the non-agricultural goods area."
Court orders federal probe of Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan International Herald Tribune for allegedly repaying a loan to an Indian builder with US$9.75 million (€7.26 million) in foreign currency without the central bank's approval. ...... Bachchan had borrowed 30 million rupees (US$7.3 million; €5.44 million) from Mumbai-based builder C.K. Pithawala in 1995. .... Bachchan is widely considered to be India's greatest actor and has performed in nearly 150 films in a career spanning over four decades.
Vietnam Takes a Wireless Leap with Motorola wi4 WiMAX
House Votes To Lift Contraception Aid Ban CBS News
US House backs more contraceptive donations abroad Reuters AlertNet
MySpace founder aims to thwart Murdoch's WSJ bid
Independent Brad Greenspan, the 34-year-old former chief executive of the MySpace social networking site, has emerged with a rival proposal for the future of The Wall Street Journal - pitching him into a second bitter conflict with the septuagenarian media mogul Rupert Murdoch. ...... Greenspan has emerged with an alternative plan to invest $1.5bn (£750m) for a 25 per cent stake in Dow Jones and to offer advice aimed at improving the profitability of its internet properties, including and the financial news site MarketWatch. ...... two years after he tried unsuccessfully to stop News Corp from buying MySpace ..... a subsequent legal challenge, which alleged the $580m (£290m) price tag criminally undervalued the business, was thrown out of court. ...... Greenspan said he has assembled a consortium of investors willing to put up $1.5bn (£750m) to buy a non-controlling stake in the company in return for two seats on the board ..... He netted about $47m (£23m) for his stake in MySpace when the company was sold in 2005, two years after he was ousted as chief executive. ...... In a business plan sent to Dow Jones, Mr Greenspan said some $250m of the money would be set aside for investment in the online businesses, which by adding video content could become a major rival to CNBC
The American Film Institute's best 100 movies Citizen Kane (1941) tops the list.
Michael Moore's Health-Care Criticisms Resonate on Capitol Hill ABC News a comprehensive, publicly financed national health insurance program covering everything from dental to emergency care by the physician of the individual's choice. ..... Kucinich's co-sponsored bill also aims to extend and improve Medicare coverage so that every person residing in or visiting the United States or a U.S. territory, regardless of legal status, would be eligible for unlimited health care. ..... The nation's capital suffers beneath the title of "Hollywood for Ugly People."
Was the Last Decade of Movies THAT Bad? San Francisco Chronicle According to the American Film Institute's new list of the 100 greatest films, the last ten years have produced only four great ones: "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (No. 50), "Saving Private Ryan" (No. 71), "Titanic" (No. 83) and "The Sixth Sense" (No. 89). .... Other new nominees included "Spider-Man 2,""Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,""Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,""Shrek" and "Chicago."
To the First-Born Go the Smarts Forbes While a 2.3 IQ point difference doesn't seem large, it translates into about a 30 percent increased chance of a child getting into an Ivy League university
Family social rank not birth rank influences IQ Reuters how siblings are raised, not their birth order, is what matters when it comes to brain power.
G-4 talks fail as India refuses to yield Economic Times India refused to yield ground on giving market for farm products to rich countries. .... “Talks have failed as India refused to dilute its stand on agricultural market access,” commerce minister Kamal Nath said over phone from Germany. “There was no convergence and there was no question of India making any compromise,” he said.
'EU flexible, India rigid as WTO talks get secretive' Hindu the European Union showed flexibility on the sensitive topic of farm tariffs, but that India held firm in defending its agricultural sector from foreign competition. .... Brazil and India presented positions on easing access to their industrial markets that were still far away from US and EU demands
Brazil-India walkout ends WTO talk PRESS TV the same fault lines that have kept a multilateral accord elusive for nearly six years - farm subsidies and open markets. .... Nath said the West was only interested in "perpetuation of the inequalities in global trade". ... The WTO had been hoping to reach an agreement by the end of the year that would accelerate international trade and give poor nations better access to rich markets.

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