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Got to admit, it's getting better...


Last week: miserable and sick.

This week: happy, rested, and with a little glow of health. (Or, possibly, irradiated milk I accidentally drank.)

Was it the best three-day weekend ever? Very possibly so.

By Friday, the noxious, infectious, malodorous virus that had come and wrestled me to the ground and given me unwanted head noogies, was already starting to depart.

On the way out, the virus said, "Hey, Omar, I know I made you drip constantly from your nasal passages and cough and have a sore throat, and there was even some bowel problems you probably thought were because of something you ate, but was actually me. Well, this is where we part ways. You sure you don't want me to stick around a little longer, Chief?"

Me: "Get the fuck OUT!"

Which is good, because the rest of the weekend was completely packed. And then it wasn't. Friday night, a group of friends and I saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The movie crouched under my seat, and then busted out and kicked my ass six ways 'till Thursday. Then it hid in my brain, all dragon-like, making me remember how good it was throughout the weekend.

I started applauded at the end of the movie, and my friends told me later that I was the first one the start clapping and that I led the cheer. Hell yeah! It was just fantastic. Romantic and action-packed and just incredible. Go see it. Now!

Saturday, got some shopping out of the way. Then, we did a bowling night for a friend's birthday, Sunday was spent grocery shopping and seeing Pamie's "City Hunter" anime screening at the Alamo Drafthouse. Monday was a little bit of work, some reading and, finally, some rest.

It was the perfect blend of doing a bunch of stuff and doing a lot of nothing. If I don't have that balance, I either get bored or overwhelmed. This was a good weekend.

Thanks, Dr. King.



Speaking of which, you owe it to yourself to check out Sars' entry about the MLK Holiday on Tomato Nation.

I have very strong feeling about violence. I've always been for gun control and against capital punishment. But then, I've never had anyone in my family killed or brutalized in a way that would make it a personal issue for me.

And, even being a minority, I've never been in the situation of having my life in danger or being physically threatened because of my gender or skin color.

At what point do you just snap? Where's the line between useless violence or protest and useful civil disobedience?

I remember a few days after the Oklahoma City bombing, I was with a friend named Mas'ood. He and I had been doing some reporting/Web site work on some of the Muslim fallout that happened afterward. A lot of people don't remember this, but right after the bombing happened, a lot of people assumed that it was the work of international terrorists. In fact, on the local level, many Muslims were threatened or made to feel as if they were in danger because at first, nobody knew that it was some white guys with a militant bent.

Anyway, at that time, the community was facing some serious anti-Muslim sentiment. Mas'ood and I went to the home of a man whose wife had miscarried. People outside their apartment had thrown rocks at her window, yelling, and she had fled to the bathroom, afraid they were going to come in and attack her while her husband was at work. She was so frightened, she had a miscarriage.

We went to the man's house. He didn't know what to do. He was obviously distressed and, trusting Mas'ood, wanted us to tell his story. I'll never forget this -- he handed me a Polaroid of the miscarried fetus. He told us that if we wanted to use the photo to tell his story, we had his permission.

What do you say to that? What do you? If this man retaliated in some way, if he maybe attacked someone who was threatening his wife, or railed at a system that believed him to be a terrorist simply because of where he came from (and never mind that it's completely against a Muslim's religion to perform an act like the Oklahoma City bombing, unlike Tim McVeigh and Co.)... I don't know. Is that justified? If I had to live this man's life, could I take that and not resort to some sort of violence?

It was a credit to this man that he didn't want revenge. He wanted his story to be told -- to shine a light on the conclusions people, even good people, jumped to in the middle of a crisis.

Mas'ood and I talked a lot during those days about not only what was happening in the Muslim community (Mas'ood himself was worried about his own safety just being on the university campus), but also what brings people like Tim McVeigh to that point. We knew about the militia angle from early on -- our paper pursued that angle and I still remember Mas'ood buying copies of magazines like Soldier of Fortune, trying to build a kind of profile of the militia mind. The disenfranchised white male, often divorced, often with few job prospects, convinced that the system has been turned against him.

When you believe that you have no change for happiness, that the deck is stacked against you and that society has deemed you unworthy of achieving the Dream, what then? Do you rebel? Do you resort to violence? Do you pack a Ryder truck with chemical explosive and park it in front of a government building?

Tim McVeigh has asked that his appeals be stopped. He wants to die now. He's all out of fight.

I don't understand Tim McVeigh. I don't understand his anger or his need to settle a score by taking out hundreds of lives.

I don't understand that.

But if we don't try to understand what creates a Tim McVeigh -- the very real phenomenon of white male rage, feeling that the pie is being cut smaller and smaller and that minority groups and the government are to blame -- we will never be rid of these kinds of events.

It used to be militia and terrorists. It's been postal workers, high school kids, more recently tech workers shooting up their offices.

We're not rid of rage. And we're not even close to understanding it.



All right, it's official. The PlayStation2 launch was a failure. Oh, not an all-sucking failure. There will be some great games coming out, you will finally start to see actual PS2 consoles at the stores where you can buy them (although I have yet to see one on actual store shelves), and by the time Metal Gear: Solid 2 comes out, all the PlayStation faithful will be cheering.

But damn, how many people do you know that actually have a PlayStation2? It was weird seeing all these PS2 games on store shelves over Christmas, knowing that there weren't people to actually buy the games because they had no systems.

Sony lives and dies not by sales of the consoles, but by sales of games and peripherals. That's why an extra controller or memory card sets you back $35. And if you don't have happy campers out there with systems in their house, where do you make your money?

Thus far we saw a launch that didn't get enough systems into gamers' hands. We've seen a flurry of games for the system with only a few standout titles (Madden 2001, SSX, NHL 2001. Basically just sports games). And we've seen no real innovation to justify the price tag that is double what you'd pay for a Sega Dreamcast. The Dreamcast has better games, period. It has Internet connectivity. So why are people still slobbering over a system that is difficult to get, possibly overpriced and which is nowhere near reaching its potential in terms of available games?

Mmm.. I'm gonna go
with, "Big damn failure."

I bring this up because IGN posted a story about the launch and called it, "Success or Failure?" I was intrigued by the story, especially the part in the headline about how they interviewed "industry executives" about the success of the launch. Wow, I wanna read this.

Now let me tell you why this story is ass. All of the "industry executives" they ask this impartial question to are all from third party game publishers who make games for the PlayStation2. They are all spokespeople from companies who have nothing but money to make if they say, "The launch was a great success, why don't you go buy a PS2 and then buy our games?"

And online video game sites wonder why they're bleeding readers and advertising. They're turning into glossy talking heads for the game companies. When your journalistic integrity is being usurped by "Nintendo Power," you know you've got problems.

By the way, Sony? The Xbox is coming. It's going to have a hard drive and a modem built in, it will play DVDs and I'm guessing Microsoft will have learned to ship enough units at launch to avoid what happened to you.

I'm not a big fan of Microsoft, but still. The clock is ticking. Get those PS2s out there, cut the price $50 and then we'll see how you do.

Don't make the video game fans get violent. We believe in peace. But we're not above nonviolent protest by sticking with the Sega Dreamcast for the time being.



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Clip Art Corner

At the planning meeting for the "Unemployed Minority Gardeners for Bush" inauguration day party.

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