Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few. - George Bernard Shaw

Ingrid Newkirk

Ingrid Newkirk Interview

Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder and president of PETA, is one of the most recognizable faces in the animal rights movement. Through her publications and PETA's work, countless animals have been saved and aided to a growing public uneasiness surrounding animal exploitation.

Social media?

Posted by Bharat on November 20th, 2009

Is social media revolutionizing our world?

Nader on Obama

Posted by Bharat on November 2nd, 2009

Two things, I think, are clear. First, liberals knew what kind of candidate they had and what sort of president they’d get in Obama. He hasn’t really disappointed. Conservatives have painted him as a socialist waging class warfare against the rich. In reality, he’s a centrist. His desire for partisanship, whatever his motives, have led him down that path. Second, Ralph Nader doesn’t pull his punches. Love him or hate him, he doesn’t hold back when something is on his mind. Recently, in the wake of Obama’s Nobel Prize, Nader referred to the President as a frightened man. See for yourself. But, honestly, for actual liberals, we’re all (hopelessly) waiting for Obama to take advantage of the supermajority and start delivering on his promise(s) for change.

Wildfires: A California Disaster

Posted by JBMills on October 17th, 2009

Every year a series of strong winds sweep through southern California. These hot, dry, gusts, called the Santa Ana Winds, carry with them an annual series of disastrous wildfires that have affected the lifestyle and landscape of the region. With each new year there appears to come a more devastating surge of fires, bringing permanent damage with each passing flame.

In October 2007, over 1,500 homes and 500,000 acres of land were destroyed in southern California forcing 1,000,000 people out of their homes and leaving many of them homeless in the process. These fires went on to injure 85 people, 61 of who were firefighters, while leaving 14 dead as a result.

Aside from the immediate effects of the blaze, experts believe the environmental toll from the 2007 fires will take decades to recover. Due to the fires, the air quality in San Diego has risen to near lethal levels, citing a major health concern throughout southern California. With damage costs reaching over $1 billion, the 2007 fires continue to affect the social and cultural aspects of the community.

Since the fire, state and government organizations have begun instituting programs to better equip themselves for future disasters. While outside of these groups, the general public still lacks a strong enough understanding of these fires to be ready in case of emergency.

Wildfires: A California Disaster is a short educational documentary about wildfires in California that we hope could be used to further educate the people of our State about the different causes of these fires, how to prevent them, and ways to prepare if there is a need in their community.

Buy It Here!

Engineers, doctors, newspaper kiosks, doughnut shops..

Posted by Bharat on October 7th, 2009

I was just forwarded this delightful passage by a friend:

“In the last two decades of the twentieth century, the South Asian Indian presence in the United States and Canada has been felt in all major walks of life. Physicians from India are to be found not only in the major metropolitan area medical centers but also in remote parts of the continent. South Asian engineers abound, particularly in the information technology industry. Newspaper kiosks, doughnut shops, hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and conveniences stores have been conspiculous for their brown-skinned proprietors and employees.” The opening paragraph from, “Health, Faith Traditions, and South Asian Indians in North America.”

There’s the sheer “are you kidding me?” incredulity to this opening salvo. And then, to boot, there’s the fact that an Indian, Prakash N. Desai, wrote it. Anyone remember that old Lewis Black joke about the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard and brain aneurysms?

Swing Kids

Posted by Bharat on October 7th, 2009

Swing Kids were a seminal hardcore punk band during the 1990s. Justin Pearson, who we’ve interviewed previously on the BYL, and who’s now the bassist in The Locust, Head Wound City, etc., was the band’s lead singer. I was excited to come across a live set of theirs online. I especially appreciated the opening monologue from drummer Jose Palafox. “The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy…”


Posted by Bharat on September 28th, 2009

Epic ranks highly among musicians most listened to by BYLers. His sincerity, unorthodox flow, and willingness to look at both personal and political matters make him one of the most captivating rappers in today’s scene. So, I was disheartened to hear that he’s throwing in the towel. Over on the messageboard, Epic writes:

hey everyone just want to give Saskatoon fans the heads up that this may be my last show ever. don’t want to call it a retirement show because i may change my mind 9 months from now, i probably will. But the fact of the matter is that this may be a good time to call it finished.
i am still gonna go to rap shows and listen to rap and go on open mics and even rap my songs outside shows and what not. It’s been one hell of a strange and fun run, i couldn’t believe when i first rapped outside saskatoon and this music took us from moscow to la saskatoon to edmonton. i have met alot of amazing people. i got so many opportunities that other people never got so i am not gonna complain about how rap did me so wrong. for every 1 thing that went down wrong 15 things went down right. i got so much support from chaps and soso and nolto and factor and kay and noyz. recently from Thomas Quinlon and han solo records. (it is not fair to thomas when i turn down video fact opportunities or mazazine interviews) I show more love when these people are not around by listening to there cd’s so much. i must have listed to nomads cd over 100 times. I just want to say that i have always been 100% heart on the mic. i am doing one more song over a factor beat that i have been working on for the past 10 months. other than that i won’t be recording for awhile. i have a tear in my eye as i write this but i will still punch you in the mouth.

Take a look at a few of clips of him rapping. Here with Pip Skid doing “All up in this piece:”

“Another left wing peace song” with Nomad:

And, finally, “Ah Hemsky;”

Guilty of being…..a man

Posted by Bharat on September 25th, 2009

There’s little doubt that sexism is pervasive in most spheres of life. But I’d like to think, in modern western societies, that we’re (at least gesturing at) moving towards knocking these biases down. That belief took a shot earlier this week when I read this story. Terence Kealey, vice chancellor at Buckingham University in the UK, said that when female students ask male professors for help they should “Enjoy her! She’s a perk.” He continues: “She doesn’t yet know that you are only Casaubon to her Dorothea, Howard Kirk to her Felicity Phee, and she will flaunt you her curves. Which you should admire daily to spice up your sex, nightly, with the wife.” People were in an uproar when Larry Summers, former Harvard President, made comments to the effect that women didn’t have the intrinsic ability to work at the highest levels of science. His comments were surely wrongheaded. But Kealey’s are not only sexist, but in an indirect way, condones predatory behavior in male professors towards their female students.

Read for the Record

Posted by Bharat on September 20th, 2009

If you’re reading this, well, then you can read. You were probably sufficiently motivated as a kid to get into reading that you were able to develop the requisite skills and perhaps even developed an interest in actively reading on your own. But this isn’t the case for everyone. In poor, urban areas, where schools simply don’t have books or children aren’t encouraged to read, illiteracy is a big problem.

My friend, E., is collecting donations for Read for the Record. She says, “Jumpstart is entering its annual to get books to children who need them. As some of you know, each year we choose a flagship book that will be read to children in schools across the United States. This year I am happy to say we will be reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar! If you are in the Atlanta area, I’d be happy to host you as a volunteer reader in the morning on October 8th at one of my three preschool site partners. It is lots of fun, and the sites are very easy to get to.”

So, if you’d like to donate to this cause, visit this site. She adds “It costs $10 to donate one book ($8.99 for the book plus shipping). Because I deliver these books every year, I know that each and every book is donated is delivered to a child who has few to no books in his or her home library.”

Most of you spend–”even in this ‘economic climate’”–more than $10 a night drinking. I think you can afford to donate at least one book to this worthwhile cause.

President Obama’s Back to School Talk

Posted by Russell on September 4th, 2009

Conservatives are perturbed over President Obama’s education talk planned for this coming Tuesday. The planned fifteen to twenty minute speech is said to be about personal responsibility, staying at, and succeeding in school. Considering our current reverse brain drain, and the pitiful amount of science and math majors in our universities, it seems like a good idea. But conservatives are more than a little upset. The claim is that the President is trying to “indoctrinate” their youth and push a “socialist agenda.” The only problem is the national media have once again taken the bait. The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, AP, and others ran stories this morning about the “issue.” This outrage has been especially bad in Texas where several large school districts have opted out of the speech.

The White House has tried to make concessions by making the speech available in text on Monday morning and editing some of the supplemental materials that some found objectionable. It doesn’t matter. I think Conservatives just don’t want their children acutely exposed to Obama. Let’s also not forget the fact Ronald Regan did the same thing in ‘88, and so did Bush ‘91. What did Regan talk about that day you ask? Tax cuts for gods sake! The Republican party needs to take a long look in the mirror and stop allowing idiots to be the face of their party.

What’s funny about this whole debacle is that the White House saw it coming. President Obama perhaps figured that the kids who were not allowed to watch his speech would later be pulled in by this sweet Nascar PSA.

Rachel Maddow (again)

Posted by Bharat on September 2nd, 2009

Rachel Maddow–who is quickly becoming a BYL favorite (or maybe just mine)–is no stranger to the political talk show circuit. (See, e.g., our earlier post on her appearances on Meet the Press and Hardball.) But she’s also making an impression on the late night talk show scene. Here are a couple of clips of her from appearances on Conan O’Brien’s and Jimmy Fallon’s respective shows. (This includes a clip of her amateur mixologist skills.)