There Goes the Ruddy Two-shoes

Archive for January, 2009

Atheists and the Inauguration

Posted by ruddytwoshoes on January 25, 2009

I do not remember how many times I said this in the morning of the inauguration: “All that praying and Bible business should be taken out.”

It should. I acknowledge that this nation was erected upon Christian principles, but this is a new epoch. It is no secret that this country is now home to diverse faiths — and nonbelievers.

This is a great post by Greta Christina to which I have nothing else to add.

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Posted in Politics, Religion/Irreligion | Leave a Comment »

Points for the 44th President

Posted by ruddytwoshoes on January 25, 2009

He definitely is pro-choice.

Muy fabuloso.

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

Sad Day at the Bank of America Arena

Posted by ruddytwoshoes on January 25, 2009

For those in the crowd, who, like myself, do not at all bleed purple.

I am wondering where the real Darren Collison has been the past week. His presence is being missed BIG TIME.

But we WILL bounce back. I know that.

Go BRUINS.

Posted in Let's Get Distracted | Leave a Comment »

Divirginizer Whopper

Posted by ruddytwoshoes on January 17, 2009

Whopper Virgin (AP Photo)

"Whopper Virgin" (AP Photo)

Jon Steinman of Deconstructing Dinner takes a good look at Burger King’s latest marketing scheme and American cultural imperialism:

Perhaps you’ve already heard the buzz. In late November, Burger King (BK) launched a marketing gimmick called Whopper Virgins. The campaign would be waged via the Internet as well as a series of television ads directing people to the Whopper Virgins web site.

Whopper Virgins is the product of American PR firm Crispin-Porter and Bogusky. The company employed a film-crew to travel the globe and introduce BK’s famous Whopper hamburger to people in some of the world’s most far-flung places. Inuit of Greenland, Transylvanian farmers, and the Hmong of Thailand were among those targeted for the experiment.

It was hoped that Americans would be fascinated to see the reactions of such ‘foreign’ people tasting the homogenous staple of American fast-food — the hamburger.

In some cases, participants were also engaged in a taste-test to compare McDonald’s Big Mac with the BK Whopper.

While it was likely not the intention of BK or its hired PR firm, the Whopper Virgins campaign has revealed the sheer ignorance of Western culture, and has managed to proudly celebrate the cultural imperialism that North Americans have become so famous for.

Located on the campaign’s web site is an approximately seven minute video that showcases the film-crew’s Whopper expedition.

In the early stages of the film, a member of the crew is recorded expressing his excitement at the de-virginizing of the Hmong people: “They’ve never seen such a foreign piece of food before,” he proclaims. “They didn’t know how to pick it up.”

Maybe I’m being picky here, but of course the Hmong of Thailand have not seen a ‘foreign’ piece of food before, that’s what makes it ‘foreign’!

I’d be curious to observe whether or not this member of the film crew would be as amazed with himself upon being presented with a bowl of salted crickets (insects being a staple of many cultures) only to then realize he doesn’t know how to use the chopsticks placed beside the bowl. Hmm, that could make a good film!

The Whopper Virgins film continues with an animated map of the world, and a diagram of where the film crew (and Whoppers) will be travelling to. The same person who was shocked to see people who had never seen a hamburger is heard narrating in naïve wonder: “You’re going to go all around the world and find people that are really off the grid, who perhaps don’t have televisions, who don’t have access to restaurants and what-not, who really live outside of things.”

‘Outside of things’?

And what would the Hmong, Inuit and Transylvanians think of these half-witted Americans trucking Whoppers around for the purpose of producing a marketing gimmick?

I seriously question just who of those represented in the film are ‘living outside

of things’.

Of course, the spreading of their brand around the world has long been the

objective of BK.

BK restaurants number 11,900 and are dispersed throughout 69 countries, with 34% of the outlets outside of the United States. So in the case of Whopper Virgins, BK is simply celebrating the global influence the company has exerted thus far.

However, I consider it a fair assumption that while North Americans may well be aware of the downsides to cultural imperialism, our continued support and participation in this long-standing phenomenon does not seem to be abating. Perhaps the widespread viewing of the Whopper Virgins film will succeed in showcasing exactly how our Western culture can so easily pollute and patronize other cultures.

As one case in point, when the film moves to the Inuit of Iceland, an older member of the community is seen unwrapping his first-ever Whopper. The wrapper is swiftly discarded in what was likely the first piece of non-reusable food waste that he’s ever been responsible for.

Many critics of Whopper Virgins have suggested that the gimmick was purposefully designed to create controversy.

I would disagree.

The orchestral music played throughout the duration of the film is suggestive that what the film crew and staff are doing is a noble cause and a sign of American superiority. The music is so epic in tone, that in many respects, the handing over of Whoppers to ‘foreigners’ evokes an image that introducing a Whopper to a Whopper Virgin is akin to a gift from God.

In the end, I propose that Whopper Virgins ranks as one of the greatest displays of unintelligence ever seen in the world of marketing, and not because of the content of the film, but because of the name of the campaign.

‘Virgin’ is often used to depict purity and something uncorrupted. By choosing the title ‘Whopper Virgins’, BK has indirectly admitted that the introduction of the Whopper to people who have never tried one, amounts to corrupting what was once pure.

I for one agree with Burger King.

Posted in Society and Culture, TV, Film, and Literature | 1 Comment »

Chewing the Cud with Some Positivity Juju

Posted by ruddytwoshoes on January 17, 2009

I am attempting to nurse a fragile infatuation with the concept of healthy living through nourishing my psyche with positive energies.  I began to hinge on my iPod for exquisite companionship during work hours – one that has so far seen many successes in fending off the negative forces that devour my already monstrous job environment.  I started to relieve my personal network of dark and superfluous connections, so I may focus on those that offer smiles, learning, and opportunities to grow.  I purchased lifetime access to unrestricted amounts of optimism and free-flowing mementoes of how fortunate I have been in this existence, and I am eager to utilize it in each waking millisecond.

 

The world embraces indefatigable hatred and unrest as its wealth, however, so I am prepared to meet my defeat. 

 

This infatuation really is brittle, as you may observe.

 

I am giving it my best shot, though, at least within the parameters – which happen to be rather fluid parameters – of my “private” life.

 

That said, cheers, and I wish you all a beautiful year ahead.

 

 

America will be inaugurating a new presidential era in three days, and it is creating a concoction of emotions inside me.  The Bush family’s departure from the White House, along with the fact that they are not going to be replaced by the McCains, must be a cause for celebration, but I am too much of a skeptic to be entertained by the idea that Barack Obama will bring about the promises of change that so well graced his campaign literature. 

 

However, it is ridiculous, I must say, that these wing nuts are expressing a lot of anxiety over Obama’s incipient presidency, throwing words like “Marxist” and “Antichrist” around with the false sense of assurance they gather from whoever far-right media personalities they elect as their news sources.  I have yet to hear a logical explanation for what makes him the Antichrist – that news story about 6-6-6 as a winning numerical combination in the Illinois lottery sometime in November just does not do it.  My many grievances against Christian teachings aside, this numerologically-based scaremongering is just laughable baloney.   And a Marxist?  Because he expresses his favoring stronger unionization, tax increases on the rich, and a form of universal healthcare (which is not getting anywhere near “universal” after appointing Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services)?  More importantly, when did he ever declare an interest in wiping out the capitalist system?  He wants to regulate it, as opposed to eliminate it, which is admirable enough if you ask me.  Whether or not it is going to be sufficient, though, I am not certain, but from what I have seen to date, he is not striking me as an individual who is likely to stray from corporate lobbyist interests.  And, no, he is not in any way governing left.  Look at his appointees.  Even Pat Buchanan caught it.

 

He never was my first choice until he and McCain clinched their party nominations.  At that point, it became too easy to jump on the Obama bandwagon because the elections are dominated by regrettably only two parties, and voting against the bigger of the two evils quickly appeared to be the appropriate route to take.  Furthermore, putting a heptagenarian in office was just too precarious when he had for a vice president — who assumes the presidency if and when he kicks the bucket during his term — a hugely inexperienced Alaska governor who bragged about deriving her foreign policy experience from her state’s close proximity to Russia, and had no idea, prior to being coached by McCain’s aides, that Africa was a continent.  No kidding.

 

I listed Dennis Kucinich as my favorite presidential candidate after the Democratic Presidential Debate on November 11, 2007.  I fear that he is not leaving that position for a little while.  A rarity in American politics, he exudes an unpretentious regard for civil rights and the kind of mettle that does not droop when his viewpoints are faced with mainstream disapproval.  Listen to his answers during the November 11 debate:

 

 

If you want to measure him against the other participants of the said debate, watch the entire video. 

 

You can tell that, unlike the others, he was not trying to be safe with his replies whatsoever.  I can just picture Wolf Blitzer’s brain cells going ballistic over Kucinich’s responses, especially during that one invaluable moment where he publicly called for Bush’s impeachment – on national television.  Blitzer was not to let a “radical” like Kucinich challenge his patriotism in front of the American people.

 

So then came more propagandist tactics executed by the mainstream media to alienate voters from the Kucinich platform.  That he was being given very minimal speaking time during the debates was not enough – the mass media had to make sure he was portrayed greatly as a mad individual, completely out of touch with reality, and forced him to acknowledge his belief in UFO’s through a highly irrelevant question during one of the next debates in which he was allowed to participate.  He was banned from taking part in debates shortly after that – a blatant violation of the First Amendment that was shoved under the rug. 

 

“Change” has been a tremendously overused word during the past two years, but I feel that very few Americans are actually ready for it.  Many of us want to change the players but crave more of the same center-rightist policies.  I trust that a Kucinich administration has the ability to facilitate a huge and much needed change in this country, but I am not about to continue daydreaming about the possibilities.  The American population is too weighed down by McCarthyism to rationally ponder – even consider for a second – a Kucinich presidency.

 

I will closely watch what Obama does over the next four years – too short a time, perhaps, for any president to neaten the mess he is inheriting.  I am eager to know, however:  is his efficiency in solving the current economic crisis, the conflict in the Middle East, or the immigration problem going to match his impressive eloquence in speech?  What is he going to do for our poor?  How is he going to affect the worrisome situation in Gaza with a strong Jewish lobby behind him? 

 

 

Oscar Grant’s BART cop killer, Johannes Mehserle, was finally arrested on a murder charge.  If you have not been keeping tabs on the news, you must watch this spine-tingling footage of what transpired at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year’s Eve:

 

 

A white police officer shooting and killing an unarmed black man who showed no indication of aggression or intent to contest authority – all of it is sad, yet hardly surprising.  And the idea that phenomena like this are lacking in their elements of surprise doubles, triples, quadruples the horridness of the world we wake up to every morning, where racial discrimination is an inextinguishable plague that pounces on us day by day. 

 

This time, at least, the charge was appropriate, but the dramatis personae in this case would, over the next few months, do well to remember how the Los Angeles riots looked like.

 

Viva justicia.

 

 

On a much lighter note (I have to keep the positivity juju alive around here), I have given in to Comcast’s sports entertainment package, so I could stop missing my UCLA Bruins!  They are doing well this season, despite the absence of Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook, who both contributed an enormous deal to the triumphs of last year’s team.  We are presented with some of the depth that we had been missing in the previous seasons – thanks to the nation’s top recruiting class, Michael Roll’s much awaited comeback from the redshirt roster, the highly evident improvement of juniors Nikola Dragovich and James Keefe, and the splendid leadership of seniors Josh Shipp, Alfred Aboya, and the hands-down best pointguard in the country, Darren Collison.

 

 

Not to say that I had little faith in Ben Howland’s ability to develop this year’s team into something comparable to last year’s, but I was very concerned about losing Kevin Love in particular as a one-and-done Bruin to the NBA.  I know I have only been following UCLA basketball for a relatively short period of time, but I had not seen or heard about a big man performing that superbly for UCLA in the post-John Wooden era until he came onboard.  Love’s profound understanding of the game never failed to manifest itself – he just always knew where exactly he was on the court, which led to his being able to convert opportunities into points.  His aptitudes for ball handling, passing (check out that lob to Collison about 23 seconds into the video above), and scoring from anywhere (yes, even full court shots he makes happen) are addicting to watch, and I am not even going to talk about his marvelous defensive ability that made him such a perfect fit for a Howland-coached squad.  And he preserved his modesty through it all.  He was not your showman athlete with the fancy tricks; rather, he had an amazingly unselfish game that he carried out to obtain a W for the team, instead of individual statistics.  And, that, too, is a Howland team trademark.

 

Highlights of the day when he schooled thousands in Oregon and one of his greatest days in a UCLA jersey:

 

 

On the other hand, it was Westbrook’s energy that made watching UCLA an even more exhilarating experience, and there is no doubt that he was one of the more athletic players to come out of a Ben Howland program.  I will never forget that “Let’s go!” facial he did on Oregon’s LeKendric Longmire:

 

 

Anyway, I am awfully excited to see what this year’s team is capable of becoming.  UCLA is ranked 9th/7th in the nation with two losses so far (and to very good Texas and Michigan teams at that) and is currently undefeated in the PAC-10, which remains to be one of the best and strongest conferences in the NCAA.  No one ever expected this year’s big men to pull off feats similar to that of Kevin Love’s, but it is a certainty that J’Mison Morgan’s and Drew Gordon’s already obvious potential to explode will be nurtured and enhanced under the supervision of the best coach in college basketball today.  I am also anticipating Dragovich, Keefe, and Aboya to grow further during the season, both defensively and offensively.  As for the backcourt – Jrue Holiday, Collison, Shipp, and Roll – there are no big concerns at all, but I do expect to see more from Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson and hope to see them being given enough playing time to develop, as they will be needed greatly next year.  Plus, we want to avoid losing promising players like we did last summer when Chace Stanback left.

 

As the Wizard of Westwood has suggested, this group has the potential to be a very, very good team, so I will just sit back, relax, and watch my boys get better every single game as they make their way towards not just a probable fourth consecutive Final Four appearance, but perhaps another national championship banner for UCLA, too.

 

And 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8!

U…C…L…A!

UCLA fight, fight, fight!

 

 

 

Posted in Let's Get Distracted, Life, Medleys of Mental Activities, Politics, Society and Culture | Leave a Comment »