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Monday, December 14, 2009

Star Trek is Quentin Tarantino's best film of 2009 - for now

Star Trek is Quentin Tarantino's best film of 2009 - for now. The critically-acclaimed producer and director of films like 2009s Inglorious Bastards and the classic Pulp Fiction sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to list his top films of 2009.

 Quentin Tarantino

Before we listen to Mr. Tarantino, here's his list, again, so far:

1. Star Trek
2. Drag Me to Hell
3. Funny People
4 Up In The Air
5. Chocolate
6. Observe and Report
7. Precious
8. An Education

Quentin Tarantino states that he's not seen "some of the films I'm expecting big things from" Avatar, Lovely Bones, and Invictus. He also stated that he's not including his own film, Inglorious Bastards, his highest grossing film to date.

Here's the Quentin Tarantino video interview:

This, coupled with the New York Film Critics Online choice of Avatar as Best Film, is starting a kind of cooling off of the rapid awards success of Up In The Air. Still, the awards season is young and it's just December 14th.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 27, 2009

OSCAR ALERT - Screen Credits and Music Entry Form Due December 1st for Academy Awards

OSCAR ALERT. You have until December 1 to get your Screen Credits and Music Entry Forms in to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) if your movie is to be considered for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. From the press release, AMPAS explains:

For a feature film to be considered for the 2009 Awards, the film’s distributor or producer must file an OSC form with the Academy by 5 p.m. PT on December 1. If a feature film is released in 2009 and the completed OSC form is not submitted by the deadline, the film will be ineligible for Academy Awards in any year.

OSC forms may be submitted online only, at http://aiwosc.oscars.org/aiwosc/. Information about submission and feature film eligibility can be obtained by contacting Credits Coordinator Howard Loberfeld at (310) 247-3000, ext. 113, or via e-mail at hloberfeld@oscars.org.

For an achievement to be considered in the Original Score or Original Song category, the principal music writer(s) for a feature film must submit an official music submission form by 5 p.m. PT on December 1.

To request music submission materials, contact Dave Hanson at (310) 247-3000, ext. 151, or via e-mail at dhanson@oscars.org.

While the credits submission deadline is December 1, feature films have until midnight, December 31, to open in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days to be eligible for 2009 Oscar® consideration.

Entries in the foreign language, animated feature, documentary, and short film categories are subject to special rules and must meet other qualifying criteria. The entry deadlines in these categories have already passed.

The deadlines have been communicated before; it would be sad to learn that a great film missed being nominated because of paperwork issues. Hopefully those responsible will pay attention to this deadline notice.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Angels baseball beats Yankees baseball 5-4: battle of payrolls

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Angels win was a Money-ball story

The old saying: the more things change the more they stay the same. The Los Angeles Angels beat the New York Yankees 5-4 today in the AL Championship Series. They're back 2 games to one and could make a real game of it with another win.

But don't make the mistake of thinking that it was David beating Goliath, where the New York Yankees monster payroll was clobbered by the miserly fiscal practices of the Angels.


The truth is that the 2009 player expeditures for both teams are not far off. The Yankees payroll was between $192 million and $201 million this year; the Angels payroll was at $113 million.

Both teams are part of the top six highest payrolls in Major League Baseball, proving that it takes money to win, even in this post-Moneyball era. This was supposed to be the time when the Internet and sabermetrics created a baseball team that could consistently when with a low payroll.

But the reality in 2009 is the same as it was in 1993 and in 2002 when I created the Oakland Baseball Simworld in partnership with Forio Business Simulations, and 2003 when University of San Francisco Professor Dan Rascher and I founded Sports Business Simulations.

Payroll rules.

Our simulation was and is designed to reflect both the "Moneyball" approach and the more common "Pay-To-Win" strategy, but it's the latter that's hard to beat.

In fact, Smith college Sports Economist Andrew Zimbalist (who's also a member of our simulation advisory board) determined that after 1990 there was a more powerful correlation between higher payrolls and team performance.

I tried for years to make a team "work" in the context of the current Oakland Coliseum using the Oakland Baseball Simworld (which I developed from scratch for the purpose of teaching marketing, business, and sports finance in high school and college classrooms and is based on my work at the City of Oakland). It's hard to achieve the 250 and up score that indicates baseball business success.

The only answer is to build a new stadium. Location aside - Oakland's better - it's the best tonic to turn any Oakland-based baseball team into a winner, including the one currently called The Oakland Athletics.

Meanwhile, the Yankees and Angels will keep being in the hunt for the World Series. Some things never change.

CA DMV - Do you know where your registration money goes?

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 DMV: Where's the Money?

I just returned from another really harrowing experience with the California Department of Motor Vehicles office on Claremont Avenue in Oakland .

Between this and the taxi cab issue, and the Oakland parking problem, anti-car forces should not complain about California not charging enough to operate a car. In fact I've determined that many of them don't own cars; no bumming rides from me in the future, OK?

I think God's putting me through this just to shine a good media light on these problems.  So be it.  To that end, I got the email of the director George Valverde which I will not share, the DMV Twitter account, and his Twitter account, which I will share: @GVCADMV.

George Valverde

Mr. Valverde to date has been helpful in directing my emails, though we've not talked as of this writing, but it's these revelations below that really need to be looked into.  It may be that he's not aware of what's happening under his nose.  He should be. 

What happens, and this is from the personal experience I have gone through complete with extensive notes and papers, is that the registration paid to the DMV is not immediately assigned to whatever citations a driver gets. Plus, it may take as long as three years before a ticket or toll violation is paid from DMV to FastTrak or the California municipality!  

During that time you could wind up paying for a ticket twice and not be reimbursed - once to the DMV via registration or to clear a tow and once to the city or agency. How often this happens is not clear but I learned this from a very enterprising young man at the California vehicle collection division.

It was there that part of my horror started. They sent a "Demand for Payment" for an amount of money I already paid.

When I sent the cashier's check to prove it, it should have ended there, right? Nope. It got worse. Guess why?

They couldn't find it.

That's right. But the enterprising young man I'm taking about kept digging and determined that DMV never assigned my payment. Meanwhile the toll tickets I paid were gaining interest because FasTrak said they were not paid. It turned out that they never got the money from DMV. Now, that's not my fault - I gave them a cashier's check.

Turns out this happens to Californians more than a few times and especially when FasTrak's involved.

What's an outrage is that we allow this to go on without challenge or initiative. We as Californians worry more about being able to smoke weed than having correct and reasonable vehicle costs.

And the City of Oakland's not safe here either. It has parking records that are not accurately updated and suffer from the same DMV payment delay issues FasTrak has.  I have seen three documents with three different amounts on them. 

But what really galls me is today's discovery that DMV Sacramento can "at will" delay or adjust payments for you. It's up to how the manager looks at the situation - well, how the manager feels that day. It's discretionary, which means they can play favorites if they want to but it also means they can work to correct a mistake or at least not stick you with an obvious one.

Too much of what DMV does is so disjointed and uncoordinated that I'm really shocked the California Legislature hasn't called for an investigation. For example I got something like four different print letters from vehicle collections with different amounts. But a person in a good position at DMV told me today they should all be the same and not different. 

This person also told me that the agency - like FasTrak - that requests the money from DMV sends the payment amount and DMV doens't double check it. In other words FasTrak can send one request for $50 and then up it to $100 within a month and DMV will not question it - meanwhile FasTrak's charging weekly interest to the cost.  (Isn't that illegal?  Don't we have usery laws here?)

It's no wonder an irate Yelp user referred to FasTrak's accounting practices in a way that points to some untoward intentions.

But. But. But. She says DMV expects the documents to have the same amount. Isn't that crazy-making? But she said in one sentence that DMV doesn't care what they're charge or how it changes - (my words now) because they're just going to stick you with it, anyway.

Someone's making some extra money here. I said this to one Oakland DMV office staffer today and she agreed. "Not me" she said. But someone is. This money trail's not adding up properly, yet everyone I talked to agrees there's a problem.

This is not a good situation for the State of California to be in as it looks like and feels like it's trying to cheat California residents to clear a massive budget deficit.  I said it, and I challenge the DMV to show me that it doesn't look like that.  It does. 

Balancing the budget on the backs of California drivers is, to use a street term, just plain lame.  Ok.  It's criminal.  Moreover, it's a highly regressive practice, hurting the poor more than anyone else. A sad state of affairs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SF Chronicle talk - Phil Matier on California politics and government

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San Francisco Chronicle Columnist Phil Matier is a friend and one-half of the well-known reporting team of Matier and Ross.

I've known Phil since 1993 when I started as a columnist for the Oakland-based Montclarion and he and his professional sidekick Andy Ross were working under the same "Matier and Ross" title. Over the years Phil has always lent an ear and advice.

Now, since I blog on the SF Chronicle's website SFGste.com, I figured I'd take time to do something that was always in the back of my mind: make a vlog featuring an interview with Phil. The result is this 21 minutes long video.

Frankly, it also a way of paying back those at the SF Chronicle who've given me the freedom to express myself and bring light to some issues that ordinarily would be ignored.

Phil and I met at Merritt Station. A local cafe near Lake Merritt in Oakland on Sunday, September 27th.

Me: The legendary Phil Matier. Phil, my audience is national and international. Tell people about yourself. You're probably the most well-known - in the United States - 'muckraker', I would say. Ah. I don't really like that term. How would you describe yourself?

Phil Matier: I think I'm pretty much a political columnist, and uh, zeroed in pretty much on the San Francisco Bay Area and the state of California. Which, in a lot of ways, leads the nation both in content and in controversy when it comes to politics.

So I've been doing it for quite a number of years right now and I've seen a lot of interesting changes. In both parties and in the emergence of the third party, which is the 'decline to state' - people who don't really feel aligned with either of the two.

So, California is in some ways again on the leading edge of American politics, including the growth in the sort of disillusionment about the political system.

Me: Let's go with that, but before we get to that, what was your first big scoop?

Phil Matier: You know, Zen, scoops, they come and they go whether they be on the police beat, the court beat sports and politics. Sit back sometimes and flip through your clips and take a look at things. To be quite honest, they just sort of fly by like waves on a beach.

Me: Ha. There's so many you forgot, right?

Phil Matier: Well, its not just - there are a lot of what we call scoops - is that in retrospect what we look at as scoops: somebody, a gaffe, something on the goppip front, nonprofits not being on the up and up.. We've covered them all - me and my partner Andy Ross in the Matier and Ross column.

But sometimes you wonder whether these are the waves on the beach. And while they look big at the time they crash, it's really the tide that dictates sort of what goes in and out of this harbor. So when I look back on them I go 'That's interesting but I try to look at the tied and the bigger shifts that go on.

Me: Is California ungovernable? Because we have the initiative process. We saw the circus with Prop 8 and what happened with the California Supreme Court's decision. I want to hear your view. Is California ungovernable?

Phil Matier: Well, part of your question is (really) is California governable or is it over-governable at this point. We have very active governments on a number of different fronts.

We have, of course, your standard political government, which is elected every couple of years to your state assembly, your state senate, your governorships, different elected offices, your mayors, your city councilors, your town councilors, all down the line. On top of that we have the judicial system which can turn around and say 'yes or no' to whatever laws or decisions those various entities make.

Some say, well, is California being governed by the courts. If you look at things like prisons, roads, schools, and such like that, sometimes it appears that the courts are making the primary decisions.

In California we have another layer over that which is the initiative process. Which was initially the idea that if the voters didn't like something they could put it on the ballot and they could change it. Especially if the legislature or the courts were simply inactive or chose to ignore it.

The first big - it was a dormant thing (the initiative process) for many many year, before it sprang to life a couple of decades back with Proposition 13. The passage of that: the great California tax revolt, which in turn led to the rise of (Ronald) Reagan and other things nationally. As I was saying California in some ways moves the country.

That inspired people to say we can take government into our own hands when government refuses to act. The intiative process became a gauge of the overall political tides. If a City like Oakland didn't want to do tax reform then the people would do it for them.

That morphed into a process where people and businesses were putting things on the ballot to put them on for ballot's sake. So now we have three layers of politics in California. Three layers of governance, all competing at times, but at times all working together.

As an illustration, California's many problems with its budget. The legislature didn't have the will or the votes to pass various things to they said we will put it to the voters and have them decide.

That didn't work.

Another question is, let's say Gay Marriage in California, Proposition 8. Voters said 'no' to it, City of San Francisco said 'yes' to it, triggering a court fight, that turned around and said 'no' to it and then the voters were asked again and they said 'yes' to it, (which was a 'no' to Gay Marriage), but that is a process. Like it or not. People - if it works in your favor, people like it. If you don't get the results you want it needs fixing.

California's having these discussions about having a constitutional convention and try to remake the playing field, yet again.

Me: Can we get there, though?

Phil Matier: We may get to a constitutional convention. I'm not sure we're going to get anything out of it that's going to be substantive.

At the key to all of these problems, as (former Speaker and San Francisco Mayor) Willie Brown likes to say, it's not the system, it's the players.

Speaker / Mayor Willie Brown

And if you're a football team and you've lost the Super Bowl in politics these days in California we say 'Well, we need to change the rules' - make the goal posts closer. We almost could have won if we'd gotten those last 10 yards, so let's make the field 90 yards rather than 110 yards.

We do these under the name of reform and all they do is often times all the do is change the rules. But if you don't have the talent, it's not going to work.

Me: How much of these problems are borne of the fact that we seem to have two states in one? We've talked for years about a split state need. But we've never done anything about it.

Phil Matier: People would say we have two states, Northern California and Sounthern California because they have the water. Now, California's spliting into two states, coastal and interior of California which is exurban and suburban. What the coast has to sell, the inland's going to buy. We have two Californias, now you can say we can split them but I'm not sure it's going to work. Many states have a split; it's just that ours is a little bigger than others. 

Me: Let me ask you a blunt question, first, about San Francisco and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Why is he running for governor when there are those who feel he hasn't finished being Mayor of San Francisco?

Mayor Gavin Newsom

Phil Matier: Well, Zennie, let's be honest. If there was a rule in politics that if you were going to run for another office you could not do so until you were finished with your current one, we wouldn't have a President Obama.

Me: Are you comparing Gavin to Barack?

Phil Matier: Only in that we have this evolution in American politics to where you pass through rather than necessarily complete. So that's not a new phenomenon at all. History is full of governors and senators - congresspeople - who have moved on to other offices midterm and cast their eye high and kept going.

Zennie Abraham: But Phil, come on. I know Gavin. I love Gavin. I think Gavin's a great guy, but I keep wondering why he didn't do the 'Jerry Brown move'. Jerry was Mayor of Oakland; he remade himself. Concentrate on being Mayor, and then..

California Attorney General Jerry Brown

Phil Matier: Zennie you have to dust off your memory a little bit. Jerry Brown, no sooner did he get elected Governor of California with his father's help, did he too run for President.

Me: That's true. I stand corrected.

Phil Matier: Now he says the voters never forgave him for that; he didn't think it was a smart move but that didn't stop him from running for President again and again and again.

Zennie Abraham: Three times, I believe.

Phil Matier: With age comes wisdom. But in California we also have Jerry Brown who, while not declared is going to run for governor and who well could get into the Guiness Book of World Records for having been the first guy to be governor twice - non consecutively. And the first to have gone from governor to attorney general.

I think what you're saying is 'Why the leapfrogging' and you want to know about Gavin Newsom and wha the future holds for him.

He obviously sees himself as a person of destiny of which the mayorship of San Francisco was a step to that. Well, you would say the governorship would be a step to another office? Yes. He is a creature of that world. It's an interesting paradox that he is at once an agent of change and very much something out of a television politician, running from one office to another.

That is politics as well. It is a game of ambition. It is a game of high ideals. Very rarely do we have situations where people who are underestimated wind up in positions where they achieve greater than anyone expected.

Harry Truman, for example, was a pretty much a political machine product and had been parked in the vice-presidency as a caretaker know body though was going anywhere.

Zennie Abraham: Reagan?

Phil Matier: No Ronald Reagan was always a rising star - a man on the move. He was the first true multi-media president - Jack Kennedy was probably the first televised one - Ronald Reagan took it further.

On the next mayor of San Francisco and Black Politics in Oakland

Phil Matier: Gavin has not really laid down a political infrastructure in San Francisco It's going to be a bedoin regime when Newsom picks up his tent and moves on - the sands will, within a day, cover up most of what political tracks he had left.

Zennie Abraham: Any surprises in the City Attorney's Race that might lead to mayor?

Phil Matier: The City Attorney of San Francisco Dennis Herrera's obviously a top candidate for mayor. State Senator Leland Yee would like to see himself the first Chinese-American mayor of San Francisco. Bevan Dufty would like to be the first Gay mayor, We have a number of people out there.

But in politics, Zennie, as you well know, you don't know the field until the bell rings. Because things changes quickly. Here in Oakland, you had the return of Ron Dellums, then before that Jerry Brown. Who knows? In Oakland you have everyone asking 'Who's going to run?'

Zennie Abraham: Perata?

(Fmr.) State Senator Don Perata 

Phil Matier: He's already running but who knows, Sean Penn may move to Oakland and run for mayor. I'm just joking on that, but the point is in politics you just don't know.

Zennie Abraham: In Oakland it seems like (Don) Perata is unbeatable. I can't see anyone that can beat him. I admire Don but I always thought his want was to ascend beyond mayor, instead of be Mayor of Oakland. Am I looking at that the wrong way?

Phil Matier: I think that for Don Perata there's always been a split path there. I think that he thought he could go high in state government and I think he ran for controller on the state level and he didn't make it in the primary. There's ambition there.

But he did go up there. He did get a look inside the governor's office. There are two types of politicians: the executive types and those that enjoy the debate. Willie Brown knew he couldn't win (for governor) state wide, but he went to the state and got as far as he could. I think Perata's more on the executive side. Senator Diane Feinstein's more on the executive side, but she's in the Senate acting as an exective.

Zennie Abraham: If Perata wins, does that mean Black politics is dead in Oakland?

Phil Matier: No. Zennie you have to understand the art of politics can be very obvious on the street or very subtle. You could make an argument that if I was talking in straight political numbers, if I ..OK. I are saying that the absence of a Black mayor would lessen the political power in Oakland?

Zennie Abraham: It's not so much black mayor as councilmembers, people who are active.

Phil Matier: Let's take a look at this.

Zennie Abraham: Sure.

Phil Matier: Two (black) members on the city council.

Me: Right.

Phil Matier: Two members on the (Alameda) county board of supervisors?

Me: Right. But Phil, we...

Phil Matier: Excuse me. Your congress. Your Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Me: Yes.

Phil Matier: That is a pretty strong..black police chief. Black fire chief.

Me: Right.

Phil Matier: There's a pretty strong front there within the infrastructure of government and on the elected front.

Zennie Abraham: Phil, I gotta ask ya, we had more black councilmembers 15 years ago.

Phil Matier: There's also been a change in the population of Oakland.

Me: Yes. Yes. Yes. Very true.

Phil Matier: Now, is it reflective of the city? If that is the goal is it reflective of the ebb and flow as well.

Me: Yes. It is reflective of the city. We have change. We have our first Lesbian councilmember. We have a large lesbian population per capita. But even with that, my contention is that those who are African American and politically involved are not as cohesive as they used to be.

Phil Matier: What is the reason for that?

Me: I don't know.

Phil Matier: Well, part of it is, possibly, with success comes complacency.

Me: Also lack of leadership.

Phil Matier: I don't think..What leadership. I don't...you have a black congresswoman, a black..

Me: Mentors. Lack of mentors.

Phil Matier: I don't think that's for lack of leadership.

Me: Ok.

Phil Matier: Now, Ron Dellums was congressman he handed it to Barbara Lee. Right?

Me: But they're older than me.

Phil Matier: Well, OK. That is universal in politics - young versus old cuts across all political lines. Now whether the young organize around political issues that remains to be seen. Now whether a Perata ..You could make an argument that a Perata or a Jerry Brown perhaps increased African American participation because they felt like they needed to fight for something.

Me: In Oakland, I see younger talented white women in politics. Frieda Edgette who runs the East Bay Young Democrats is well-liked and moving forward, as just one example. But that's why I say: there's a strong group over there that's unmatched in any area.

Phil Matier: Well, all I can say is at the core of politics in America a person gets to decide their willingness and level of involvement It's not mandated. You don't get drafted. You decide how much you want to be involved or not be involved.

In terms of politics if we go back to the idea of courts, we have organizing tools as economics - getting the piece of the pie. If it attracts quotas or whatever you want to call them is there a need to organize?

Me: Forecast the Governor's Race.

Phil Matier: It hasn't started yet. We have people hovering around. We have Gavin Newsom. We have Jerry Brown. We, on the Republican side, we have Meg Whitman. We have Steve Poisner. Tom Campbell. A race is when the running starts. What we have are people putting on their sneakers and looking in the mirror.

Me: Senator Boxer. Vulnerable?

Phil Matier: Anybody is going to be vulnerable when we have national issues like heath care in this situation. It's no secret that when your party's president is in office and its midterm elections, you're vulnerable. Yes. She's vulnerable. I don't have to say that; every politician feels that in their bones. Even if they're uncontested they always feel vulnerable.

Me: Phil, I can sit here and talk to you all day but I know you're a busy man. We can catch you at SFGate, and Channel Five.

Phil Matier: and on KCBS (radio) in the mornings and the afternoons.

Me: Phil, thank you so much.

Rush Limbaugh in NFL = Modern Slavery

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Right wing Radio talk show blowhard Rush Limbaugh wants to own at least part of the NFL's St. Louis Rams and has joined St. Louis Blues owner and former Madison Square Garden CEO Dave Checketts to do so.

But with Rush Limbaugh comes baggage and a lot of it in this case. Given his statements about African Americans, Rush Limbaugh's even partial ownership of any NFL team is akin to (deliberately capitalized) Modern Slavery.

Rush Limbaugh's record ads up to a view of blacks as alien, second class citizens that are to be feared, held in check, and watched. So imagine Rush owning a team mostly black? What would he say if the St. Louis Rams drafted a black quarterback in the 1st round of the NFL Draft? Would he complain that 'while the league's desirous to see a black quarterback do well, I'm not'?

Rush, with all due respect to his incredible business acumen in securing a $400 million radio contract, has made a ton of statements that put blacks down. For example, he twice used the term "spade" in talking about President Barack Obama in 2008, even though he thought he could get away with it because then presidential candidate and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used the term "spadework" in a talk about Obama.

NFL and Rush?  No!

Rush is quick to point to a crime where (sadly) black youth were beating up a white young man on a bus (and it wasn't even because he was white), but turns a blind eye to any news of a hate crime against blacks.

He's compared NFL players to the gang members the crips and bloods, using the time worn code words for "black gang member".

Rush has made so many anti-back statements, there's a "top 10" list complied by Casey Gane-McCalla of Newsone in 2008:

1. I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.

2. Zennie's note: There is some question over whether Rush actually said this comment but it's all over the Internet. This entry is mine, not that of the original blogger.

3. Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?

4. Right. So you go into Darfur and you go into South Africa, you get rid of the white government there. You put sanctions on them. You stand behind Nelson Mandela — who was bankrolled by communists for a time, had the support of certain communist leaders. You go to Ethiopia. You do the same thing.

5. Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.

6. The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.

7. They’re 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?

8. Take that bone out of your nose and call me back(to an African American female caller).

9. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve.

10. On Obama : a ‘halfrican American’, an ‘affirmative action candidate.’ Limbaugh even has repeatedly played a song on his radio show ‘Barack the Magic Negro’ using an antiquated Jim Crow era term for black a man who many Americans are supporting for president.

It's obvious Rush Limbaugh doesn't like any African American person save for Bo Snerdley, who works for him. If working for Rush is the price blacks have to pay to gain respect from him, I say forget it. Please don't let Rush Limbaugh own any NFL organization.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kanye West | Kanye West "I want chicken because I'm black" an insult to blacks

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Kanye West has done it again. Proving that President Obama was right and he indeed is a jackass just weeks after his celebrated break in on Taylor Swift as she was accepting the award for "Best Female Video of The Year" at the MTV Video Music Awards...

Kanye West opened his mouth and told a TMZ.com reporter that he wanted chicken because "I'm black."

You know, there's an old saying that if you forget the past you're doomed to repeat it. In this case, younger African Americans like Kayne obviously weren't instructed that being black does not come with a set of instructions or limitations, as we were told in the past, as much by ourselves as by others.

This - his comment - strikes a heavy nerve with me (and I don't care if he was kidding) because when I was little, specifically between the ages of 4 and 13 while growing up on the mostly black South Side of Chicago, I was told repeatedly by others who were black like me that I wasn't black.

"You talk white", was all I was told again and again. And if it wasn't that, it was this by the African American adults: "Well, you talk 'proper'. (Thank God for my Mom and Dad, who never, ever, pushed that idea in my head.)

The point is I was bombarded with constant signals telling me how I was supposed to act and be as an African American person. And signals telling me that I should not expect to achieve because I'm black.

Those signals that I ignored at and pushed against, at times deliberately, and eventually I created something I called "My Iron Man Suit", in a Chronicle column two years ago. It wasn't until we moved to Oakland in the early 70s that I stopped hearing that because I wasn't in an entirely black environment. Sorry, but was my experience.

Yeah, I'd evolved to the point where most of my friends were not only black but white, Latino, and Asian, and not the kind of people who would tell me that, "Star Trek's for white people", for example.

Are you anti-diversity folks paying attention here?

To me freedom is the ability to be who you are, free from the chains others try to confine you with, and chains crafted from their own insecurities. Heck, I got those messages constantly when I worked at the City of Oakland between 1987 and 1989 and then again from 1995 to 2001.

When I was an intern in 1987, a person, black, who I know to this day and respect told me something that still makes my blood boil, even if I knew what he meant. He said "Man, you've got three problems: you're young, gifted, and black."

In other words, society can't stand an intelligent African American man. That's what he was saying to me.

Someone else said that my problem with trying to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland was that some thought a high-profile white person should do it (and the Oakland Chamber of Commerce certainly sent that message to me at the time).

I'm not kidding.

Another Oakland employee in economic development said "I guess you can tell we don't like smart people around here."

But those were the 80s and now in 2009 I can say the are a lot of blacks like me who've risen to public view, which makes me smile. One of those people is in the White House. I know, without knowing all of them personally, what kind of struggle they endured just to be themselves.

Kanye is channeling those messages all over again here in 2009, and there's a part of me that just wants to grab him by the collar and yell "Knock it off, will ya?!!" Thanks to Kanye West, we can see that regardless of how much one talks about progress, integration, and President Obama as the first black president, we still have people who talk as if being black is a kind of confinement of personality and extinguishing of ambition.

That's why when Barack won the Presidency last year, I cried. I just cried.

Kanye, hear me on this: try sending a signal to your followers that one can be anything they want to regardless of color, but especially young black men. I think a large part of black-on-black crime is self-hatred. We've got to stop that, and you can help, big time. Do that for me. Heck, do it for society because you have a big voice. But lately, your voice been an irresponsible one. Please step up and help advance us, not knock us back. Yes, I like Chicken, but it's not because I'm black.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Calvin Klein SF Union Square - Is store front racist?

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On YouTube.com

I received this email below from a viewer which explains the person's shock over the Calvin Klein SF Union Square store front display. I went over to make the video above and get your view on the display.

As I've stated in the video, it was not a good idea to approve a store front that is at best questionable. Everyone who's seen the video thus far has a reaction to it, from furled brows to frowns and raised eyebrows, the video does not make for a stoic reaction.

Why someone would do this is a question I will ask Calvin Klein's staffers in the days ahead. Indeed, the worker that talked to me through the glass admitted that she did not the racial overtones in the display until they were pointed out to her.

But for now, read the email below, then take my poll on this certainly controversial Calvin Klein store display.

The email:

Hey Zennie,

I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture (I don't usually use my phone for anything other than a phone, so it escaped me in a moment of anger), but I just got back from the San Francisco Shopping Center where I happened upon an appalling window display in the Calvin Klein store next to Bloomingdale's on the 3rd floor.

Imagine a window full of frolicking monkeys, swinging from tree branches in various playful poses, but instead of monkeys, there are mannequins wearing the latest Calvin fashions. And instead of swinging from tree branches, the mannequins are swinging from ropes finished in nooses at the ends. All of the mannequins are black. It doesn't sound like much, but I'll tell you, those nooses caught my eye in the first place, and it didn't take long to piece it all together.

Why am I sending this to you? Well, you've got a voice on several forums, and could make this very public and embarrassing for Calvin Klein. That anyone could get past the basic design stages of such a display without questioning its bad taste is unbelievable. That such displays are crafted by designers with an eye on every detail makes it even less excusable. That such displays are often dictated to stores by corporate headquarters and duplicated at all locations makes it a disgusting travesty.

If you happen by that store, or know someone in SF who could take some pics for you to post, you could shine a bright light on a very ugly message going out to the thousands of people who pass by that carefully composed collection of symbols. I was deeply offended, but rather than contact Calvin Klein so they can quietly change their windows, I figured I'd contact someone who can give it a bit more exposure.

Thanks for listening and keep up the good blogs,

Name withheld by Zennie
San Francisco


More fun polls on pollsb.com

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Shawne Merriman, Tila Tequila: she says she doesn't drink; what of this video?

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The latest news in the unfortunate story of the accused battery and assault charge on San Diego Linebacker Shawne Merriman by Tila Tequila is that Merriman claims he was trying to get Tequila, who's real name is Tila Nguyen, to avoid driving while intoxicated. This is just what I speculated in my video commentary:

Tila's lawyer disputes Merriman's claim, saying it's "spin" but does not offer an alternative explanation regarding what happened. Morever Tila herself now says she was not drinking, and that she's allergic to alcohol.

Really interesting...

But Stingaree nightclub owner James Brennan says that Tila was drinking Saturday night. Apparently Tila made the claim to an aversion to cocktails on her Twitter page but that specific tweet is now not to be found.

Also not to be found is any reason why Tila's suddenly covering up her tweets. Between these actions and her website message claiming she has multiple personalities, it seems there's more to this story than meets the eye.

I write that with great sadness because to accuse someone of assault is a serious charge that gives everyone pause: everyone either wants to or is compelled to run to the side of the assumed victim and attack the accused.

But what happened when it appears the assumed victim may be using how society responds to his or her advantage and wasn't really harmed at all?

It makes the public more skeptical of such claims and look more at the character of the accuser. This is where we are today, with even her "friends" leaving curious comments on her MySpace page and this YouTube video from her channel MissTilaTequila, which shows Tila talking about being at a Beverly Hills Mansion (posted August 4th, which was that Tuesday, my birthday, which means it was on August 2nd) and with the camera pointing to a champagne bottle set and saying "pimpin..Rose Chrystal Bottle popin livin it up on a Sunday"..

And in another video created this year and from her channel Tila claims she gets anxiety attacks when she goes out and tries not to because of that, just before she sings a song she wrote saying how she's a "little drunk and gonna get you high."

Okay! More questions.

If she's allergic to alcohol, why make such a video featuring it as a key part of the good life and focus on the champagne bottle not once but twice (she's controlling the camcorder). Why make another video rapping about being drunk?

Hey, I agree its the fun life but only in moderation, and I'm honest about how I enjoy the good life and do it with care. This is terrible, to say the least, and calls her latest claims into question.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Governor Schwarzenegger talk to Joe Diamos about California's economy

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Is California becoming a "party economy"? Governor Schwarzenegger should talk to Joe Diamos.

Diamos says we're in trouble

Since our credit crunch of 2008 and the staggering wave of not just job losses but the dramatic drop in overall job creation over the last eight years, I've always believed our American economy was in trouble.

Rather than throw out a bunch of statistics, I decided to turn to someone who's in the middle of the economic storm: Joe Diamos of Diamos Funding Group in Redwood City, Ca.

Diamos' company is a law firm that specializes in representing you before the bank you have a mortgage with to get that bank to adjust your loan - called "loan modification" - so that you're better able to afford your monthly payments.

I asked Mr. Diamos how the economy was doing; I didn't get an enthusiastic answer. "It's terrible", he said. Diamos has a specific recommendation for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature.

"Get business to stay in California. We're losing business left and right to other states, Nevada, and so on. We've got to keep businesses here."

I wondered if the Governor and other politicians really understood what was going on? "I think people in general are starting to wake up now," he responded. "People are hurting all over."

Does the Gov get it?

Will a great credit score make a difference in getting a home loan? "What's killing the economy is that they've lowered the requirements so much that anyone could get credit; now we have a wave of foreclosures because people aren't working. It's so bad now, no one can get a loan. If you had an 800 credit score, on the job for 10 years, but lost your job, now the banks will not take a risk on you."

Diamos says banks are out of trillions of dollars because of the foreclosure wave and the credit crunch and says that President Obama's program to help keep Americans in their homes does not have enough money in it. "When Obama put money aside he only put in $75 billion. That's not enough to solve the problem. Everyone's down in (housing) value. One step is to raise the amount of money in the program. The banks spend $50k to foreclose. Banks are between a rock in a hard place; they spend $50,000 to foreclose or that amount to maintain the loan."

"It's a complicated issue, he said. "I think we need to have the market take its course. California's businesses are being chased away; we've got to get them back."

Diamos does not recommend buying a home; his advise is buying real estate is not the best move. "Renting is better", he says. "Give the house back. Real estate's not coming back for 20 years. We've got trillions more foreclosures coming."

Then we have "option on loans" - payment should have been $6,000, after you hit a certain point, you have to make the payment over $7,000 - that will cause another wave of foreclosures." (Option loans are such that payments are calculated to "baloon" after five or ten years because payments are recalculated.  Without them, buyers could not easily afford larger, more expensive dwellings.)

Diamos continued, "Then we have commercial real estate and that's another wave of foreclosures coming.  I don't think anyone knows how bad the foreclosures are going to be," he said. "We have a big hole. Hold on to your cash; cash is king."

"We do the foreclosures, we've got a line out of the door. If you're behind on the mortgage we modify your loan. I can't get you a loan if you want one, but I can fix the one you have. It's getting worse and worse and worse. The banks don't need to issue loans to make money."

So if you want to have your loan modified, call Joe Diamos. But regarding the American and California economy, we're in trouble. There's no clear idea of what's fueling economic growth because we're losing so many jobs, especially manufacturing employment opportunities.

My personal contention is that our entire system is contracting under the growing weight of the offshoring of employment and we've got to take a measure of draconian protectionism.

Our trading partners will not like it, but on the other hand they need our active economy as a place to sell their goods and services; if our economy is weak it hurts them.

The stimulus package of $780 billion is not large enough; $2 billion would be more effective and I'm not listening to cries of socialism - that' really not the point. Governments running our economic competitor nations have no problem pumping money into their economies so we shouldn't either.

Diamos is correct in stating that the key to the recovery is small business, but we need to have programs to help our businesses grow and not tax them to death as they do it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Shawne Merriman, Tila Tequila and, her website message

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ESPN reports that San Diego Chargers Linebacker Shawne Merriman was accused of suspicion "choking and restraining" his girlfriend as she tried to leave his home at 3:45 am. This is what's written on ESPN's website:

Deputies responded about 3:45 a.m. to Merriman's house in Poway, north of San Diego, after a woman called to say she was choked by the player and thrown to the ground when she tried to leave, Sheriff's Department spokesman Jan Caldwell said at a news conference.

Merriman, 25, was taken into custody and booked into the central jail at about 8:30 a.m. He was released shortly after 11 a.m. Caldwell said she didn't know if he posted bail or was released on his own recognizance.

Tequila left Pomerado Hospital at 7:36 a.m. Sunday, ESPN's Colleen Dominguez reported. She was observed and treated, but not admitted. Her stay at the hospital was approximately two hours.

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune was interviewed by ESPN's and said "this does not fit with the Sean Merriman I know. Now, I only know Merriman's fantastic football career, and little else, but I know nothing about Tila Tequila, so I went on a little Internet searching spree.

Tequila's real name is Thien Thanh Thi Nguyen, or Tila "Tequila" Nguyen and is known as an MTV star. She had a show on that network called A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila and was on for two years before it ended July 8, 2008. Tequila has been featured in Maxim, Stuff, and Penthouse magazines.

Her MySpace page was reportedly the most popular in pageviews in 2006, which is no mean trick to achieve. So I visited her MySpace page, scrolled down to "About TILA TEQUILA IS IN SAN DIEGO", and found something really interesting...

You've got to read how Tequila describes herself in this message:

You people probably won't even be able to read this because my page is so cluttered...sooo...imma blab a little bit here...hoping you won't read it. Here we go: i like people who are really fucked up. I mean like tormented in one way or another because then i won't feel like such a freak around those that are "normal." nerds, geeks, and freaks are all my friends. Cool people are pretty damn lame. I am very high strung and suffer from multiple personalities. Jane. She's crazy and she always wants to kill me. Tila...poor girl..she works so hard and always wants to make others happy...she deserves a break. I haven't had boyfriend for so long. I always want one, but when there is one around i run. I'm too busy. I love being in love but i hate the consequences. I do a lot of things that are self destructive. I try not to. I like being at home alone...a lot! So much more fun than surrounding myself with a bunch of wacko's out there. I am also bi-polar so that should explain my irratic postings. I like to read. I love to read. I am a nerd. I've always been a nerdy geek trapped inside a umm...woman's body. Yea....that's me. People love me for some reason. I don't know why...i do but i just say i don't know why just to be modest. I want to be a multi-millionaire by the time i reach 25 years of age. And i will.

What I could not help but focus on was this:

I am very high strung and suffer from multiple personalities. Jane. She's crazy and she always wants to kill me. Tila...poor girl..she works so hard and always wants to make others happy...she deserves a break. I haven't had boyfriend for so long. I always want one, but when there is one around i run. I'm too busy.

Now, let me make this clear, I don't care what personality Tila Tequila may have been, choking and restraining any one of them is wrong. But I also know from personal experience anyone who says, let alone blogs, that they "suffer from multiple personalities" and is "bipolar" and "bisexual", is not someone to deal with as they have a tendency to completely self destruct and distort reality and as Woody Allen said in Husbands and Wives "crash their plane right into you."

Unless you crave drama, it's best to run away from such a person just to preserve your sanity.

Also interesting is her Twitter page (which has been "protected" since about four hours ago) and tweets written in French, but loosely translate to..

You did not realize that I knew that you are in love with me, but I am more intelligent than you realize 1:01 PM Sep 5th from web

And this one:

My secret lovers.......always bitter sweet. Love undying....lust then weep...there she goes again.....Where is she now? Who is she with? 12:30 PM Sep 5th from web

What really happened?

All of this makes me wonder what really happened between Merriman and Tequila. Merriman is out of jail, having been released this morning at 11 am; Tequila was at the hospital for two hours, but its reported she was there for two hours, then released, not admitted. And it was reported she was drinking. According to E! Online the pair were partying at a hotspot called Stingaree in San Diego "without incident."

Ha. Except that they were having a load of fun. TMZ.com has a set of photos of Tequila on his lap, or more accurately, his thigh, but another one where it looks as if Merriman is drinking water from a bottle - look for yourself.

By contrast, It's reported that she was drinking at Merriman's house.

This is hard one to deal with because my gut, just my base instincts, say that Tequila got too drunk and Merriman tried to stop her from doing something, perhaps driving, then all hell broke lose. Others were in his home and the San Diego County District Attorney's Office will question them.

I know Sean's an NFL veteran, but this is one of those kinds of incidents they talk about avoiding at the NFL Rookie Symposium. In my view, there's nothing wrong with being a careful snob. People like Merriman have too much to loose and too many people and kids who look up to them to allow themselves to be connected with anyone who claims to "suffer from multiple personalities".

After all this is over, Merriman should get a new set of friends.

Monday, August 31, 2009

SF Chronicle - a plan to help the newspaper

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I happened to run upon an article in today's edition of "Editor and Publisher" which reported that the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper (SFGate.com is the Chronicle website) was planning more layoffs after Labor Day. It may not happen, let's pray not, but staff reductions could come as soon as next week.

Apparently, even after the last round of job cuts about two months ago or so, the newspaper is still losing $1 million a week or about $4 million a month, or a whopping $48 million-a-year loss.

That's really, really sad news as a paper is nothing without the personalities who made it, but I think there's something that can be done to at least save some jobs and stem the tide of revenue losses.

There are as of this writing 2,780,000 pages that make up SFGate.com. My idea is simple: add a donate button to each one of them.

The button would be at the top left of each page. A person could donate as little as $1 and as much as $1,000, but let's say the average donation was $2.

SFGate.com draws about 9 million monthly unique visitors according to this press release issued earlier this year. That comes down to about 290,000 unique visitors a day.

Let's say that just 30,000 people or about 10 percent of the daily visitor count posted a donation of $2 each. (in the video I mistakenly said 180,000 visitors and 10 percent.  That's wrong.) Over the course of a month that could be as much as $1.86 million per month in revenue. That's almost cuts the $4 million deficit in half and helps maintain newspaper staff.

That's really it; the idea's that simple.

Donation is better than news pay

I'm not a fan of the idea of charging for news, as Hearst Corporation is considering of late. It invites a process where one website can feed its content with news from the paysite, and then offer other sites and blog with the chance to link to their site rather than the paysite. Plus, with all of the journalists losing jobs, there are more people out there who know how to get a story and compete with the paysite.

The free news sites will always outnumber and outperform the paysites, regardless of how many big brands do that strategy.


Let people donate if they wish. But backing the effort with an aggressive marketing campaign and a well-designed donation button system will generate new revenue and help save the jobs of a lot of great people at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Chevron Ecuador Judge Nunez focus of bribery allegation

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In a blockbuster development, Ecuador Judge Juan Nunez, the key legal figure in the Chevron Ecuador environmental damage case, is captured in a video shown here explaining that he plans to rule against the oil giant and for an award of $27 billion "more or less". The judge explains that the verdict will happen and that Chevron will be blocked from filing an appeal of his ruling. In that segment of the video, the Judge explains he's only there to talk about the verdict, not about "the other stuff" which refers to a $3 million payoff request. Later in the video its implied that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa will benefit from the bribe amount.

On video today I talked to Chevron Media Relations representative Sean Covey about the video and Chevron's investigation.

In the video Judge Nunez, Aulo Gelio ServioTulio Avila ("Avila"), and Pablo Almeida and are talking with two gentleman, Wayne Hansen and Diego Borja who are environmental remediation contractors and in the Judge's chamber in Lago Agrio, Ecuador.  Hansen and Borja have pen-installed camcorders in their shirt pockets.  Diego Borja has worked for Chevron before, Hansen has not, according to Chevron.

Judge Nunez (on the left)

The idea of the meeting was for the Judge and his political associates to be paid by the environmental company for business that would come to them as a result of the Judge's planned verdict.  Here's what the Judge said from the video and the Amazonpost website:

Núñez:             “Any other questions for me as a judge?”
Hansen:           “Oh no, I, I know clearly how it is, you say, Chevron is the guilty party?”
Núñez:             “Yes Sir.”
Hansen:           “And the, the, the act (decision) is October or November of this year?”
Núñez:             “Yes Sir.”
Hansen:           “And it’s….?”
Núñez:             “No later than January.”
Hansen:           “January 2010. And the money is twenty-seven (billion dollars)?”
Núñez:             “It might be less, and it might be more.”

The Judge says "I have nothing to do with that other part" which is not explained in full but Garcia below fills in "the blanks" later, explaining that the Judge will be paid part of $3 million from the consulants.

 Patricio Garcia

The second part of the video has an operative Patricio Garcia (photo from the Amazonpost website) who's reportedly a member of Ecuador's ruling party talking about how the $3 million would be delivered and transfered. This is what was said by Garcia:

Borja: “OK. Of the three million … one million is for the judge?”

Garcia: “Yes.”

Borja: “One million for the presidency…?”

Garcia: “Yes.”

Borja: “And one million for the plaintiffs?”

Garcia: “Yes, that’s right.”

Borja: “But, Loco, for the plaintiffs, who gets the money? Fajardo?”

Garcia: “No. The thing is, we’re going to handle it here.”

Borja: “You mean Alianza PAIS would receive the payment here?”

Garcia: “Right.”

Here's the 30 minute version of the video (the full two hour version is here):

But there's more to this video than what's reported in the press thus far. The focus here is on President Rafael Correa, who's office is named by Patricio Garcia as a beneficiary of the planned bribe money as is "his sister" as stated in the video above. As of this writing Correa has not issued a statement, but his reputation has already come under attack.

The second part of the video was filmed at Alianza PAIS (which means "Proud and Sovereign Fatherland" according to the Wikepedia listing)  Offices June 22, 2009.   PAIS is a political movement led by President Correa.   Who Patricio Garcia is beyond his appearance in this video and his role in PAIS is still basically unknown as of this writing. 

Garcia says that the President's sister  Pierina will be helpful (presumably in making sure that the businessmen get their piece of the planned $27 billion pie) and will meet with "The Gringo" (that's Hansen).  I checked and "Prierina" is indeed  described here as "Pierina Correa, the president's sister and an Alianza País leader in Guayas province".  That confirms my assertion that Garcia is tied to the President and his family as he states in the video.


Chevron wants Nunez taken off the case

The implication here is that as Chevron Media Relations representative Sean Corney said in my video above, Chevron wants Nunez taken off the environmental damage case.  But given that Chevron has informed the U.S. Department of Justice, the revalation could have deeper implications.  

It could cost the country its Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) status, which was just renewed in June of this year.  Whatever the case, this news sends a clear message that doing business in Ecuador is not the "clean" experience it should be. Until now, blogs have reported the problems of corruption in Ecuador and with respect to President Correa's involvement in the Chevron case, but now we have visible evidence to back those claims.

The news also forever destroys the claim made by Ecuador lawsuit legal advisor Steve Donziger and others who say that the lawsuit against Chevron has nothing to do with the Ecuadorian Government and is brought by citizens of the Amazon. But Correa has appeared with Donziger in public and has been interviewed about the case.


One can see that the bribe money's not going anywhere near those groups of people Donziger claims to represent; the political party PAIS would get it and "handle it" as Garcia said in the video.  The question is, did Donziger or his associates in Ecuador and America know about this bribe plan?  Was he to be one of the plaitiffs that would get the bribe money? In the Amazon Defense Coalition statement today, he does not address the possibility that he may be involved, instead he said "As the facts come out it's going to backfire heavily on Chevron."

Amazon Defense Coalition defends Judge Nunez

Karen Hinton of the Amazon Defense Coalition told Reuters that the video shows Judge Nunez resisting the bribery matter. (This is Hinton's full statement.)  In point of fact, the video shows the judge saying that he's speaking in the role of Judge and "does not know about that other matter" which is a way of saying he does know but does not want it to be officially said that he does know.  It's called "plausible deniability ." 

Stay tuned.


Full video transcripts:

Meeting 1 Transcript (228 KB)
Meeting 2 Transcript (195 KB)
Meeting 3 Transcript (218 KB)
Meeting 4 Transcript (217 KB)

Friday, August 28, 2009

California's economy shrinks; Schwarzenegger smokes

It's agreed that the planned March 2010 closure of the Fremont New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant is a huge economic loss, but the elimination of 4,700 jobs only scratches the surface of the problem.

That coupled with the stoppage and possible closure of the Chevron Richmond refinery, which already cost 1,100 jobs and we have a total of 5,700 direct jobs lost and over 29,000 total people thrown out of work or unable to get work in a San Francisco Bay Area that can't afford this economic hit at this time.


Yeah. 23,000 jobs. See, there's a multiplier impact with business operation such that an office or a manufacturer contracts with other businesses for supplies and services.

The action of a small business owner walking down to the local store to buy printer paper is part of the multiplier effect because that small expenditure helps the retailer run his or her business. Or that person's employee - even if it's just the owner - eating lunch at the local cafe helps keep it a "going concern."

It's well-known amoung urban planners that manufacturing jobs have larger multipliers than service jobs. The Alliance for American Manufacturing reports that for every one manufacturing job lost, there are four more lost in other areas of the economy. The Bay Area has been losing such "basic industry"  jobs  - and energy counts here - at a frighteningly rapid pace.

No Sense of an Economic Emergency

What bothers me is there's no one acting like there's an economic emergency with the exception of California Senator Diane Feinstein, who called the plant's loss a "devistating blow" to California. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger seems not to care, stating:

"Today is a sad day in the history of Fremont as California joins the ranks of states adversely affected by the bankruptcy of General Motors and the worldwide collapse in demand for automobiles. ... We continue work already in progress ... to ensure appropriate employee severance, proper environmental remediation and assistance in transforming the site to alternative uses."
Alternative uses?  Like what? A parking lot?   The governor says nothing of retaining and establishing jobs at the wage levels the NUMMI workers have today.   Awful statement to release.   The word "Jobs" does not appear once in it.&

Meanwhile the Toyota jobs are to go to Canada and Texas, which means that perhaps 50 percent of the employment opportunities are leaving America at a time when we're supposed to reverse that trend. If the Chevron plant closes, the jobs move south to Southern California, but it spells curtains on the Bay Area's set of jobs for low skilled workers.

Objective: Jobs for everyone

I'm really sick of the idea that everyone has to be trained to be a brain surgeon, then sit back at home waiting for a job and hoping that more in the population have something wrong with their skull. After World War II and into the '60s America had the objective of full employment - a job for everyone, period. You don't hear that kind of idealism expressed by politicians today.

That must change.

It has to start with California rediscovering economic development and doing whatever it can to save jobs and build on them. Governor Schwarzenegger needs to show the fire in the belly necessary to do this. Right now, the only fire he give off comes from one of his expensive cigars.

Which, I might add, are not made in California.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Miley Cyrus' stripper pole dance at Teen Choice Awards

When I learned that teen star and Twitter mogul Miley Cyrus had literally done a number on a stripper pole at the Teen Choice Awards Monday night, two thoughts entered my mind: first, who convinced the 16 year old to do it, second, does this mean a sex tape's in her future too. I say and write that because I learned she and her father Billy Ray Cyrus came up with the dance production idea. So if her dad's cool with his daughter dancing around that pole at her age, the sky's the limit, right? More at:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Miley Cyrus' stripper pole dance at Teen Choice Awards

TAKE THE POLL - http://www.pollsb.com/polls/p2137290-...



When I learned that teen star and Twitter mogul Miley Cyrus had literally done a number on a stripper pole at the Teen Choice Awards Monday night, two thoughts entered my mind: first, who convinced the 16 year old to do it, second, does this mean a sex tape's in her future too. I say and write that because I learned she and her father Billy Ray Cyrus came up with the dance production idea. So if her dad's cool with his daughter dancing around that pole at her age, the sky's the limit, right?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lou Dobbs home to "birthers" and white supremacists

http://www.zennie62.com - After years of ducking complaints about his occasionally offensive coverage, Lou Dobbs, host of CNN's Lou Dobbs show, may finally see either the end of his days of pretty much getting away with whatever crap he puts out, or the end of his show altogether.

Obama "Beer Summit" , Crowley Press Conference

http://zennie2005.blogspot.com/2009/0... - http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/a... - President Barack Obama held a "Beer Summit" today, as some have called it, with Harvard Professor Henry Lewis Gates, Jr., Cambridge Police Sergeant Officer James Crowley, and Vice President Joe Biden, bring an end to an unfortunate but necessary event in American Cultural history, and starting a new chapter in American race relations.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

John Edwards has a sex tape?

http://www.zennie62.com - http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-b...
For more perspective on this story, click on the above links.

Win $300 from TheChampReport.com and iwearyourshirt.com

On Youtube from iwearyourshirt, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FXCComxqu4

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Top 10 On Twitter In Oakland, LA, and San Francisco

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Who's on the "Top 10" list of Twitter users in Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco? There's no question but that Twitter, the microblogging service, has become a "must be on" new media system with an engaged and loyal core group of users, all microblogging about events, activities, news and opinion. The San Francisco-based firm has grown from small beginnings just three years ago to 19 million visitors (or 17 million if one goes by the digital research service ComScore.com) in April in what was a dramatic 83 percent jump over March, and in that month alone Twitter went from 9.8 million visitors to 17 million visitors, perhaps the fastest expansion of a new media service in the short history of the industry. It's clear that Twitter, as Eric Schonfeld with the tech industry website TechCrunch.com said, is working to become "the pulse of the planet."

As Twitter has grown so have the number of ways of measuring a twitter account holders effectiveness, or "Twitterers" as I call us. Perhaps the best Twitterer evaluation system is "Twitter Grader" made by self-described "serial entrepreneur" Dharmesh Shah. I am rather addicted to his application because it not only lets one know how effective they are on Twitter, but how they rank in their city, which is the most fun part of it all. In his blog at the site, Mr. Shah or "dshah" as he goes by explains how the final Twitter Grade is calculated:

1. Number of Followers: More followers leads to a higher Twitter Grade (all other things being equal). Yes, I agree that it’s easy to game this number, but we are looking at measuring reach and I did say all other things being equal.

2. Power of Followers: If you have people with a high Twitter Grade following you, it counts more than those with a low Twitter Grade following you. It’s a bit recursive, and we don’t get carried away with it, but it helps.

2. Updates: More updates generally leads to a higher grade — within reason. This does not mean you should be tweeting like a manic squirrel cranked up on caffeine and sugar. It won’t help either your Twitter Grade or your overall happiness in life.

3. Update Recency: Users that are more current (i.e. time elapsed since last tweet is low) generally get higher grades.

4. Follower/Following Ratio: The higher the ratio, the better. However, the weight of this particular factor decreases as the user accrues points for other factors (so, once a user gets to a high level of followers or a high level of engagement, the Follower/Following ratio counts less).

5. Engagement: The more a given user’s tweets are being retweeted, the more times the user is being referenced or cited, the higher the twitter grade. Further, the value of the engagement is higher based on who is being engaged. If a user with a very high Twitter Grade retweets, it counts more than if a spammy account with a very low grade retweets.

As you can guess, one's Twitter grade can be all over the place. As of this writing, mine is 99.8, which means out of out of 2,747,790 Twitters, there are just 4,953 who are better than me at this point in time. But a month ago my grade was 99.9 and last week it was 99.7. But since I'm hyper competitive, adding followers at a regular daily clip, I want to know where I stand in Oakland, California, where I live. With that, here are the top 10 users on Twitter who live in Oakland, followed by Los Angeles, then San Francisco, and listed by name, grade, and number of followers:


1. mistahfab - 100 - 22,270
2. acedtect - 99.99 - 16,070
3. mollywood - 99.98 - 20,394
4. mrdaveyd - 99.9 - 3,094
5. bulldogreporter - 99.8 - 1,736
6. pandora_radio - 99.9 - 26,434
7. zennie62 - 99.8 - 5,988
8. ktvu - 99.8 - 2,445
9. mc_lars - 99.8 - 3,912
10. stocktwits - 99.8 - 85,623

Los Angeles

1. christinelu - 100 - 10,760
2. ijustine - 100 - 601,005
3. wilw - 100 - 958,546
4. laist - 100 - 7,398
5. mattsingley - 100 - 18,166
6. drew - 100 6,003
7. Mayhemstudios - 100 - 30,569
8. eonline - 100 - 1,040,375
9. lotay - 100 - 56,319
10. mitchelmusso - 100 - 211,947

San Francisco

1. missrogue - 100 - 28,127
2. briansolis - 100 - 27,621
3. ev - 100 - 1,095,917
4. parislemon - 100 - 10,084
5. Techmeme - 100 - 14,604
6. wired - 100 - 71,402
7. kynamdoan - 100 - 23,681
8. loic - 100 - 28,743
9. widgetbox - 100 - 14,093
10. gigaom - 99.99 - 5,674

Oh, and just for grins, the top 10 Twitter cities are:

1 London H9 United Kingdom 63.53
2 Los Angeles CA United States 70.80
3 Chicago IL United States 67.08
4 New York NY United States 71.52
5 San Francisco CA United States 74.00
6 Toronto 08 Canada 67.12
7 Atlanta GA United States 70.60
8 Seattle WA United States 67.91
9 Boston MA United States 69.14
10 Austin TX United States 69.98

Nope, Oakland's not on the list.

Top Cities have celebrity Twitterers

You may wonder why Los Angeles and San Francisco have so many Twitterers with 100 grades. The answer's a simple one: the vast majority of them are celebrities and micro celebrities who have vastly more followers than people they follow. In San Francisco, the number-one-ranked "missrogue" is Tara Hunt's the queen of online community consultants, and just wrote a book called "The Whuffie Factor" about how to improve one's use of social networks. "EV" in San Francisco is Twitter CEO Evan Williams, who has over a million followers. In Los Angeles, "iJustine" (Justine Ezarik) has over 600,000 followers and that number's sure to grow because today she's a "trending topic" on Twitter due to her new live show on USTream.Tv and as I watch this, she's actively trying to push "Harry Potter" out of the way for the number one topic spot today.


Twitter Influncers

What all of this says is if you want your message to get out a large audience you have to work with these Twitterers or become one of them. When one gets over 2,000 followers, and updates over 10 times a day, they can cause others to share their news and information in a process called "retweeting". Or think of how Ellen DeGeneres used her 1.9 million followers to gain signatures for an online petition to stop the proposal to reduce the time animals are held in shelters before being euthanized. Some question the value of Twitter, but those who do, universally also just aren't good at it.

Oakland needs to grow more celebrity Twitterers, and of the top 10 in Oakland only DaveyD and myself are consistent bloggers. Considering the number of bloggers in Oakland, that's a shame. Maybe I should move to San Francisco or Atlanta. And on that, one can make a strong argument that the top Twitter cities are also the best ones for the consumption of online content.

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