Archive | May 2011

Satoshi Kanazawa: professional idiot, full time racist

How did I miss this moron? Satoshi Kanazawa, a Tokyo born academic at the London School of Economics, inexplicably earned his PhD at the University of Arizona. Now, he spends his time publishing papers on why Africans are a) ugly and b) stupid. Recently, Psychology Today’s editors slept on the job and even gave him a forum with which to spread his idiotic, racist research, which is of a statistical quality one might expect more of college freshmen than PhD’s at a respectable institution.

While I am late in jumping on this liberal bandwagon (call me what you will), the crux of his latest piece of nonsense is this: Black women are more unattractive than anyone else in the world, yet mistakenly believe that they are the most attractive. Kanazawa, using zero evidence, confidently claims that this is because women of African (read Sub-Saharan, err black) descent have higher levels of testosterone, and thus are more masculine in appearance.

Please. Aside from the incredible difficulties of assigning race, and the massive genetic variation that exists in every method of partitioning humanity, we must ask, has this man ever been to Africa? Satoshi reminds me of my drunken 55 year old racist english conversation students that I used to teach in Japan, who enjoyed ignorantly pigeonholing the world’s vast collection of geographic regions, peoples, cultures and individuals into three nice and convenient categories. His command of written English is about as proficient. Actually, he would do well in racist circles in any part of the globe.

One is free to find a particular type of person attractive or unattractive, but besides the incredible methodological difficulties in assigned groups and measuring “attractiveness,” we have to ask, what is the value of this research?

Fortunately, many, including Scientific American, have stepped up to debunk his methods and you can read about them here.

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Mikey Wild 194? – 2011

I just learned that rock hero, Mikey Wild (born Michael Deluca) died this morning after a three year battle with lung cancer. Mikey, “The Mayer of South Street,” was well known throughout Philadelphia’s music scene as a local clelbrity, rock icon, artist and local oddball figure. He was crass, lewd, obscene but still one of the sweetest human beings on the planet. I first met Mikey in 1994 through my friend, Ed Wilcox of Temple of Bon Matin. Ed had taken it upon himself to create a career for Mikey, forming a band, playing numerous shows and eventually releasing a record “I Was Punk B4 You Were Punk” on my label, BULB. Mikey likely was one of the first punk presences in Philly, emulating much of an early punk scene that included echoes of the Velvets, the Ramones and the early CBGB scene. However, Mikey was special. Mikey spent years in and out of group homes and institutions in childhood, suffering early attempts at shock-therapy and psychiatric medications to fight his mental ailments. Mikey was born the true misfit that punk claimed to represent. Punk for Mikey was a welcome home, at a time when punk took in the misfits, the freaks and unwanted.

I remember I went to Mikey’s house with my friend Justin in late 1999. It was an unforgettable experience. Mikey welcomed us to his home, a converted apartment in the back of a baseball card shop. We interviewed the man and drank coffee with him while he checked the phone literally every five minutes. “My girlfriend is going to call.” He would obsessively check the phone to make sure that it was securely hung up, making sure that he wouldn’t miss this important call. He showed us his paintings at the time, which spanned themes such as a portrait of Vincent Price (Mikey imagined himself as Vincent Price), a Wolfman, portraits of John Lennon playing the piano, and pictures of his new band playing “Punks on the Loose.” Most memorable was a painting of what we assumed was a naked girl, but later, over Mikey’s protestations, discovered to be the Holy Virgin Mary.

One of the most memorable moments of my rock career was playing bass in Mikey’s band, “The Magic Lanterns.” I had the incredible privilege to play one show with Mikey at my warehouse space in Providence, RI, a bill we shared with Andrew W.K. Mikey was completely unknown in Providence, yet this 50 year old mentally challenged man was able to swoon a crowd of 19 year old college kids into a daze even getting them to spell all 15 letters of “Chicks with Dicks” aloud. Amazing.

Mikey’s genius was in his incredible charisma. Despite his obviously incredible physical and mental challenges and a terrifying past, Mikey’s positive attitude and his ability to mold himself in the others of everyone around him made him a bigger than life figure. He never achieved any sort of measurable success or fame in the traditional, commercialized sense. Through his own incredible personality and true honest character, he turned himself into one of the most legendary figures in the eyes of everyone he ever met, from freak to musician to painter to actor to absolutely amazing human being.

Mikey will be missed. Here’s to you, Mikey.

Please watch Ed Wilcox’s documentary of Mikey. You won’t regret it:

Hideo Asano

I’m completely behind on writing and tending to this blog, but I’ll take five minutes today to talk about Hideo Asano, a Korean-Japanese English language writer living in Shin-Imamiya, Osaka, Japan. I was sitting in Nara beside a pond, when a homeless looking man drinking a beer approached me speaking flawless English, though in an accent atypical of Japanese speakers. People like this are not uncommon in Japan. I have been approached more than a few times by English speaking Japanese men who either travelled the world in their youth, or Okinawans who took advantage of migrant farm work when Okinawa was a protectorate of the United States. Asano is the former.

He immediately started asking me about literature, a subject on which I am woefully deficient, asking me what my favorite Hemingway book was. I told him that I had only read one, “The Old Man and the Sea” but it had been more than 30 years since I’d read it. Unfortunately, I was unable to provide him with the conversation he sought, though searching through my mental files, I realized that I have read four Hemingway books in my lifetime, but none in the past decade. From what I remember, I am not a fan of Hemingway, a fact irrelevant to this post.

I had to leave when Mr. Asano started a racist rant on international marriages, though I bought one of his small photocopied books of poems. Our meeting however, prompted me to do some searching. It turns out that Mr. Asano is Korean, possibly explaining his views on Japanese-Gaijin pairings. He writes exclusively in English, having studied at the College of the Desert in Southern California. He has written several novels and multitudes of short stories and poems, in English, French and Japanese. Most notable is a book on the Mujahideen of Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion that I have yet to read.

Asano is living the true writer’s life, travelling from place to place in Japan with no real home and apparently hitting foreigners up for conversation and book sales. I did some searching through Japanese sites, and could find no mention of the man. He is completely unknown in his own country.

To be honest, he pissed me off. I have little tolerance for racist speech in any country. Other foreigners inexplicably apologize for racist attitudes within Japan, but I cannot. I hesitate to call Mr. Asano a flat out racist, but I do regret not giving him a little more of my time. He has much more to offer than initially meets the eye and I regret falling victim to my own prejudices and not finding out more about this facinating individual and his work. To that end, I recommend that you visit his website, and check out his work in Afghanistan.

Witchcraft Case of Mr. and Mrs. Mzembe Thrown out of Court

Although this post is vastly overdue, the Mzembes, who I met while I was in Malawi, have had their witchcraft case thrown out of court. I filmed a short interview with Mr. Mzembe which I have attached below. Hopefully, all cases of this nature will be thrown out of court and never heard again.

Subject: Fw: THE WITCHCRAFT CASE OF THE MZEMBES- Mr AND MRS MZEMBE RULINGThe Ruling for the Mzembes case on pretending witchcraft came to court today on 14 April at 11.30 am. As usual Thindwa was in attendance. Magistrate Gomani read his ruling this way:

1- He stated that the Court heard the evidence from the children that the Mzembes were practicing witchcraft. That they fly to America in lichelo where they drink human blood.
2- But the case before this court was on pretending witchcraft which in short, the state witnesses should have shown that the accused by their statements or actions pretended themselves as witches or having powers of witchcraft to the state witnesses or police.
3- the state witnesses did not show any evidence of admission on part of the accused that they pretended witchcraft.
4- there was further no evidence paraded in the court for any statements or actions that the accused pretended witchcraft to the witnesses or the police.
5- the Magistrate said that since there was no evidence shown by the state regarding pretending witchcraft, he concluded that the prosecution failed to demonstrate to the court where it could find the accused with a case to answer and ask them to defend themselves. He therefore found the accused, Mr Mzembe and his wife with NO CASE TO ANSWER! They were acquitted accordingly. The wife and husband were quite happy with madam shedding a tear. Those wishing to appeal his decision were asked to do so within 30 days.

Nishinari Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Last week the first annual meeting of the Nishinari Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene convened in Nishinari Ward, Osaka, Japan. In addition to attempting to unveil the mysteries of malaria transmission and working to solve matters of world peace and security, the members of the Nishinari Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene engaged in a proactive campaign to enact important public health policies regarding the consumption of delicious fried foods and karaoke.

 

 

 

 

 

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