Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Native-American Self-Determination & Asian-American Self-Annihilation

More regarding gambling: it's clear that Asian-Americans are the main constituency for Indian casino gambling in California. Why, I don't know - there must be historical or cultural reasons. In any event, gambling seems to occupy a more-esteemed place in Asian imaginations than it does it Western imaginations. I remember many, hazy, casino evenings, segueing imperceptibly into the morning afterwards, sitting with Thai and Filipino housewives at crowded blackjack tables (frequently they'd win), which would have been unthinkable if gambling had had a really bad reputation among them.

There may be links between gambling and suicide: Nevada, for example, has a really high suicide rate. The possible link led me to coin a harsh phrase of the whole Indian casino political scene:

Why does Native-American self-determination have to rest so squarely upon Asian-American self-annihilation?

Not quite a slogan, but getting close!

The Dangers Of Highway 16

"In sparsely populated western Yolo County, residents are fearful of accidents on an unlit two-lane road designed for rural traffic that now funnels thousands of cars into the Rumsey Tribe's casino. A Caltrans review has determined that the road has twice the number of vehicular wrecks as on similar roads in California. Additionally, the tribe has applied for a liquor license that residents believe will greatly increase highway dangers."

OK, this little bit of news from the LA Times really freaks me out. Several years ago, when I was doing lots of late-night gambling at Cache Creek, it was crystal clear to me that narrow, winding Highway 16 was a BIG hazard, and that the Rumsey Rancheria band of Wintun Indians really didn't give a shit about who was getting killed on it, as long as they got paid. NOW, it looks like they want to compound this problem with liquor. People WILL die, good people, people who would otherwise have continued to live on, as a direct result of Cache Creek getting a liquor license. EVIL!

Here is the text of a letter I sent to the Sacramento Bee on April 6, 2000 (and which was published, I believe) regarding Rumsey Rancheria head Paula Lorenzo's over-reaction to having this problem pointed out:

Regarding Paula Lorenzo's letter on April 6th casting aspersions on the Bee's motives for pointing out dangerous traffic problems on Highway 16 in Yolo County resulting in part from Cache Creek casino traffic: Hoo-wee! Methink the lady doth protest too much! Just because the Indian gaming proposition passed on March 7th doesn't mean she should return to ignoring the bodies accumulating in front yards from Woodland to Guinda. No mitigation efforts by the Rumsey tribe, CALTRANS, or Yolo County can possibly match the hazards posed by sleep-deprived thrill addicts racing around blind curves peppered with blundering animals (a big mama skunk nearly sent me into a tree up there several years ago). I'm amazed that 20 miles of a single road, Highway 16, accounted for fully 10 percent of Yolo County's accidents in 1987-1997. Yolo County has tens of thousands of miles of paved roads! First, the Rumsey tribe should close the casino from midnight to 8 a.m., and put people to bed early. Second, shoot or trap the remaining wildlife in the Capay Valley. Hard for an Indian tribe to do? Not if they're serious about mitigating hazards and keeping customers alive. Otherwise, Ms. Lorenzo should grow a thicker skin and affect deafness. The screaming has just started about this issue, and it's not just the Bee - it could well be her neighbors from some roadside ditch.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The Sexiest

Regarding who's the sexiest, in case there was ever any question......

Rough Left Wing?

Here is an interesting article, which suggests that roughness on the left wing might have caused Columbia's demise. Roughness is very, very important in aerodynamics, especially when a laminar-to-turbulent flow transition is involved. Even slight damage to the Shuttle's tiles or the spaces between them, not necessarily sufficient to dislodge the tiles, might have been enough to affect their roughness, and therefore radically affect the airflow around the wing.

Iraq Debate

The debate regarding Iraq continues to rage, with lots of excellent writing being done (a rant, Jacques Chirac, Molly Ivins). The debate remains crippled by the lack of reliable information (the most important question is: Does Saddam Hussein have nuclear weapons?) As a result, a premium is placed upon the judgement, discretion, and imagination of political commentators. My position? As much as I dislike George W. Bush, he is clearly in the right here. I just hope too many people don't get killed (including comfortable civilians like myself).

Good Review Of Chicago

Good review of "Chicago" and its place in American movie musicals. The movie is great! I especially like Catharine Zeta-Jones. Even the controversial decisions the director Rob Marshall made, like leaving songs like 'Class' out, were great choices, in my opinion (I don't like that song, and it slows things down - besides, it's not necessary to harp upon Roxie and Velma's hypocrisies, since they are already so evident).

What I find mystifying is seeing various reviews, and noticing how many critics seem to hold "Chicago" to a higher standard than almost any other movie out there (maybe that's the fate of all Oscar contenders). For example, one reviewer (Mark Steyn) thought the convention of slipping into reality for dialogue, and fantasy for songs, was trite. Hello! That is standard movie musical convention, and maybe it would have been interesting to invert that choice and watch the outcome, but only in the same way that it was so interesting to watch the Space Shuttle Columbia return to Earth last Feb. 1st. Then the reviewer from the Las Vegas Review-Journal thought that an even better picture could have been made with different stars, and who knows, perhaps she's right, but who might these people be? Stanley Kauffman thought Renee Zellwegger was not on top of her material, but then again, Roxie is supposed to be an apprentice murderess, after all.

My opinion? I thought Rob Marshall and company did a pretty darn good job!

Rehearsals Continue For "How To Succeed..."

Rehearsals continue at DMTC for "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". The musical, while charming, is pretty wordy, making it difficult for people to memorize. It's fun to watch David Holmes (J. P. Finch) employing what sure looks like a fuzzy-logic algorithm, as he beats around the dialogue trying to find the right words. I play Mr. Gatch/Mr. Ovington/Company Policeman, and I have some dialogue myself. It should be fun!