September 15, 2008
I guess you are pretty obsessed when you light a political fire in your head over Civics homework (yes, I still do homework), but I’ve got to get this out. While reading and highlighting a packet on immigration, the author somehow got his random point across, unleashing his/her demise of the third political party and how the two-party system is the ultimate future of politics.
So, on a less heated note, I’d like to kindly point out that in fact the third party has essentially been the centerpiece of American political innovation, as supported by Bobby Roth’s: “A Reason To Vote”.
The first people to oppose slavery? We should give the GOP a hand, they founded the Republican Party (at the time) based on abolishing slavery. I’ll also note that most other nation-changing innovations have been conducted by a third party, including women’s rights for voting.
So although I do admit Bob Parr scares the living daylights out of me, one of the things I am very passionate about when it comes to politics is the fact that it is currently very hard for a third party to get on the ballet — and literally impossible for them to gain any recognition in the general election.
I haven’t ever agreed with a Green Party candidate nor a Libertarian, but one thing is for certain — every party should have the same chance to present themselves and their candidate’s credentials, and that has been fading away in the US lately.
August 12, 2008
Elder Bush made it clear that politics should not be in the way of the olympics, but will that become a reality? After an opening ceremony that included more heads of states than New Zealand has sheep, terrorist problems in Western China, and Bush talking with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Georgia, one might think this is a terrorist summit rather than an olympic games. And in a sense — it is! CNN can’t make it any clearer that this is a politician’s olympics with their “Beijing Reports” and it seems like whenever there is a timeout or halftime, a head of state is taking a cheap shot at the US or China’s sinking human rights policy. Yes, this was probably a bad decision in choosing Beijing for the games, but how about we watch some sports. No, I’m not going to go on my sports purist rant like I did in China’s In Trouble, but look around! Michael Phelps is dominating every swimming event he pleases, both US basketball teams look promising, we are one of the top five gold-winning countries so far, and we are shoving it away just to whine about oil and Iraq. I’m not considering a pep rally, but watching Judo alone from a ten channel television in Argentina was more exciting then anything over in the states. Why? They love their sport. I know this may come as a shock to us Americans, but they root for their team rather than accusing their players of asking for too much money or signing too many contracts. Just a suggestion — maybe we should adopt their customs and love and breathe our sports. Just a thought…
August 11, 2008
Lets face it — America loves the comeback kid. Simply, we love to read about the guy who was once bad and now is good. If they reconstructed their life, they have a story. And in a sense — that’s what makes us great — we give second chances, and people who accept that have another chance. But this is something that goes beyond the television, beyond the newspapers — behind the scenes. This is what saves the day for the rich and famous, celebrity and nutty. And finally, this is what gives the genius PR guy his well-earned week’s pay.
Growing in the new age of media, I can spot a PR stunt when I see one. It can be flawlessly pulled off, and it can be failed. In theory, to pull of a public relations job really just needs to fit a common narrative. If its viable to the American public, then it can be done. PR guys can really save the reputations of anyone on the public map. A common example of a PR stunt on the political side would be the tell-tail story of Jenna Bush. The daughter of the president of the US, a tipsy, parting Jenna was busted for underage drinking and was completely demolished by the press.
Then she disappears.
Barely any information comes up about her in months. But no one wonders where she went. The media always has other things to report, and they carried on with that. During that time, Bush slowly created an instant resume, re-building her reputation off the air. Then she suddenly comes back into the press, and come back with a bang. She is suddenly a new person — cleaned up and engaged. She took trips overseas to Africa, came back with humanitarian street ‘cred, had a stint teaching unprivileged inner city children, wrote a book about HIV AIDS with a first run of 500,000 copies, and goes on a book tour. During that time she stayed completely out of clubs and the media, denouncing herself from a household name to a lesser status. Then she came back with a bang, made herself a hit in the media , and set up a very press-worty future — a book tour that the NY times correctly identified as a media blitz.
What was pulled off here was not only a true PR stunt, but a successful one as well. Why? It covered all a stunt like this should have. What a true PR genius must do before starting his plan is a recognition of the hurdles he must tackle. Whoever constructed this plot obviously knew that the public would not forget the underage drinking if it wasn’t taken care of. So he/she took this into consideration when constructing Jenna’s new life. And because of this, the book that Jenna wrote not only cleaned up her resume, but it really was the coupe-de-grace of the whole stunt.
Another great example of a PR stunt on the entertainment side is celebrity Paris Hilton. Hilton was really a victim of her own choices, and that dug her deep into a hole that was very tough to escape. After a sting of events that all ended up all of the internet, and sometimes backfiring at her — the media had a field day slamming her down. She: (in just some of her faults) released a horrific album that bombed the charts, got arrested and convicted for DUI, had a great deal of crying that happened all be on national TV, got any last bit of self esteem snatched from her a the VMA’s by Sarah Silverman, went to jail, got that famous mugshot, and then as a coming out party, had a disaster of a Larry King interview. By that time, she was in trouble. Another blow would be a definite KO for her, and she knew it.
Enter the dragon, or as I would call him — the PR guy. With his/her aid, Paris took the tactics of many before her and took months off, both rebuilding and letting the press forget about her. And in a sense, they did.
Then, after John McCain took a swipe at Obama as well as her with his campaign ad — she pounced, fully charged and ready. She struck back with her response commercial, and at the same time took a decisive step back into the fiery realm of the media. Her commercial was both funny and accurate, but most of all it was genius. She knew she couldn’t win pretending she was just an American citizen, so she in a sense admitted her stardom and called herself a celebrity, which would have never happened before. This time, though, it worked. The press fell for it, and Hilton was back where she was always meant to be — a rich, dumb blonde fashion model who doubles as a celebrity by night. That may not win a nobel prize, but it is where she is meant to be.
PR stunts are really that last spark of hope in politics and entertainment that has saved the careers of many. There have been many of these acts before and there are many in process right now (an example would be Britney Spears). And although they work unnoticed, behind the scenes, the real geniuses behind all of these acts are the PR guys. And that’s how it will stay.
August 8, 2008
What do you really want out of your blog? Most people would say the magic word — hits. But what are really hits? There are hundreds of websites that offer you free hits as long as you sign up, and thousands of people flock to them in hope that they will double and triple their stats. And most people will. But what shows up on your hit counter and what your visitors actually see is much different. You’ve always thought of your visitors being people who somehow found your blog, bookmarked it, and check up on it a couple times a week. Many blogs have only three or four of those people. And the rest?
In truth, the rest are people trying to earn blog hits as well. You may sign up to sites like BlogExplosion, where to get hits, you are forced to look at other people’s blogs for thirty seconds. 99% of people won’t lift an eyelid to any of the sites, all they will be looking at is the button they press to get to the next one. And when you pay off all your credits from surfing, your site goes to those pages, and people most likely won’t read a word you write. It will show up as a hit on your stats, but that hit means virtually nothing.
My point here? In my quest for blogging, I want hits too. But my definition for a hit is something more different than the dictionary may claim. I want people to actually read my work, like you are doing today. And I have gotten many of those kind of visits. How? By participating in other blogs. Not just commenting with “good post”, and then leaving a link, but actually reading their article, and telling them what I think about it. This is something a lot of bloggers don’t do, and for obvious reasons. They only care about nourishing their own blog, when the truth is that no one will read it. Its a simple give and take, and it is widely misused.
There are many things that participating in other blogs can do for you, and that’s why I think they are the key for getting a popular blog that many people will enjoy.
August 6, 2008
After a full day here in Argentina, you could say I got more of a feel for the city. One of the things I mistaked from the posh hotels and grand avenues is that when you get deep into the city, it gets more and more Western. As I surfed the sidewalk with my family for a SIM card for my dad´s hacked iPhones, I discovered many things about Buenos Aires. During the day, a thick mist smothers the street. Pollution is not new to me (I live in Los Angeles), but I didn´t notice this the night before, and I always imangined Buenos Aires and Santiago to be very clean. And another thing that was new to me is the different cars. The only American car I could find was a rare Chevy, but besides that, they were all very European cars like Fiat. There was also one car that I had never seen before, the logo on the gril looked like this — /// — (picure coming soon).
As far as technology, you can say that South America is part of the Windows kingdom. This became known as soon as soon as I exited the boat, with all the security and airport computers being Windows 98. Then 30 seconds after we left the airport, a Microsoft skyscraper came into view. There is little hope here for die-hards mac geeks like me and faroZ01.
So after one day in Buenos Aires, a lot has changed in my opinion, but all for the better.
August 2, 2008
–Response to comment on “Stat du Jour” posted by Jennifer, Boston Globe Online, August 1st –
Arrogance and rudeness is somewhat of a plague in all of us, whenever it is using your cell phone in public or acting as if more important than everyone else. As a 13 year old boy (yes, a boy, Jennifer) I can’t speak in behalf of all the other kids my age, for I am but a nerd in school. Yes, I own a cell phone, but I don’t obsess over it like a Crackberry the whole day. What a concept. Nor can I pretend that I am not sarcastic, because obviously, if I wasn’t, all traces of me being funny would surely collapse.
Now with that said, teenagers are stupid, arrogant, and sarcastic. That’s just the way we are. I have only had the pleasure of being a teen for three months, and I am just naturally more stubborn. But, I’d like to think I have a brain in my head, so I try as much as I can to be as respectful as I can to everyone I meet, from my dog to the flight attendants. But as I am not a spokesperson for teens around the nation, I can’t apologize for all the destruction we’ve caused. I bet the generation before us had its moments of stupidity. Its not like this new generation has been the only misbehaving one our Earth has ever seen. Yes, one may take this as a cry for mercy, and it is. We’ve been bad, we know it, but I can’t fix it. I am a blogger just like the rest of us, to put my voice out to the world. There’s not many other teens who try to write about this stuff, and that’s why some people are bailing out on me. I wrote that texting article because I thought I could put a play on something I thought was funny, and I’m proud of it. If anyone has read any of my other articles, you can notice that I write about a lot of more qualified stuff than texting. I think Robin Abrahams, who published my texting story, thought it was funny to have a 13 year old’s skit on texting. So did I, and so did many of the readers. So if you want to see drugs and violence and vent about how stupid we teens are, just look at Youtube, Facebook, and Myspace. Just because I am the one of the only teens on the web who isn’t talking about how boozed up I got at the club last night doesn’t mean its my fault that people are doing it. But no, I am not backing away from this. I can be arrogant, cranky, and stubborn at times. Just ask my mom. But I am not the face of all teens.
Now back to the topic, which is what I would like to talk about too. I am sitting in the Santiago International Airport, (for those who failed Geography, its in Chile) and I am amazed by the amount of arrogance fellow American passengers have given to the Chilean airport staff, (which is also explained in this article.) Here we are, thousands of miles away from America, and as soon as we step off the plane, other we treat this place like a spa. We throw down our trash to the ground, leaving it for the staff to pick up. We are disgusted that no one speaks English here, and act cranky towards everyone who isn’t American. The Boston Globe article commented on how we need to be less kind to ourselves and more kind to others, which is totally spot on. Forget that we are Americans, forget they are Chilean. Maybe they don’t have a country as powerful as we do. Maybe they don’t have a thriving business. But they are humans too, and they are awake at 3 A.M. their time to help you, who has just gotten off of a first class 747. Yes, they are getting paid to serve you, but if you spent a day in their shoes, things would be different. You would snap back at the Americans for not being kind to you. Your credibility means nothing here, everyone is created equal, and that’s the way it should be. So my proposal is that Americans be respectful to others, especially when somewhere foreign. We should drop our egos, and observe our surroundings, think and make wise decisions so we don’t show our arrogance to foreigners. They may return the favor. God I sound like Ghandi.
August 2, 2008
For the first time in my life it feels weird to be American. As a kid, I’ve always
‘thought of South America as a vast continent scattered with small towns comprised of tents and longhouses, and the cities would be much less than what we have in the states. Why the heck did I think that? Is it because I’m tired after a ten-hour flight, or is it because I’m American, and that’s what we’re supposed to think. I’d guess it’s both. So here I am in the capital of Peru’s airport during a 30-minute refueling break for a plane bound for Santiago, Chile. It’s a strange sensation; I can’t read or understand a word that’s spoken or written, and I’m fascinated by it. This is the first place I have ever been where I am the lone American, surrounded by South American people who don’t give a tomato that I speak English and walk around like a tropical parrot in the North Pole. In fact, everyone around me seems kind of disgusted. They’ve probably been through this drill before, and I can relate to that. Heck, whenever I’m trotting around the Los Angeles Airport, which is my home for the weekends, I’m disgusted to see foreigners speaking other languages and getting completely lost. I just want to shout: “Can’t you see the signs!” Gee, I’m so American.
So here I am, sitting in a Spanish smoking bar, music blaring all around me, my lungs half full with second-hand smoke, sitting in front of a computer that has free internet, but because I forgot almost all my Spanish from second grade, I can’t read a thing on the screen. I knew that was going to come back and haunt me. I’m in somewhere totally foreign to me, thousands of miles away from home, and – as an intense traveler — my worst dream has come true: I, the local, has become the tourist. I have lost the battle with myself to overcome being in such a different place and act like I live here. The only thing I am familiar with here is a Hannah Montana backpack worn by a 10 year old Disney fan sitting to my left. God, Disney’s marketing is genius. So, here I am, surrounded by Peruvian people, in a smoking bar in a South American airport. And it feels tiring, enraging, and good at the same time. I’ve only spent 10 minutes here, and Peru is unique.
Note: Since I ended up being too stupid to even try to get internet, I typed this in Peru, but it will probably be published whenever I get internet, so don’t get freaked out because of the different times. And don’t tell me I’ve overlooked Peru, because I have…I’ve only visited the airport for a refueling stop. If you want a full review of a South American city, try to read my first impressions of Montevideo, Uruguay, which I’ll write when I arrive there later today.
July 27, 2008
As a Los Angeles resident for over 13 years now, I have been accustomed to the two alternate worlds of LA: Beverly Hills, and everywhere else. Recently I made a few trips of longer duration to this hub of stars, and while browsing the shops, I noticed two things. First, the prices, and what they were selling. When it comes to Beverly Hills, the myth is definitely true — everything is overpriced. But, being the teen I am, shopping is not exactly my expertise, so I have never before hit up any of the top notch appointment-only stores in the Hills. But when I first entered these stores and took a look at the price tags, I was blown away. As a southern Californian traveler, I have been accustomed some pretty outrageous stuff around here, but nothing like what was going on over in the BH. Highlights of the store that I browsed while I was wandering included $4,000 Italian motorbike jackets, $40,000 dresses, and my favorite — a $450 cotton undershirt. Now I do understand that this clothing they are selling is the real deal, high quality fabrics, comfortable feel, ect. — but the 450 buck undershirt really struck me as something I may have 10 of in my dresser that was bought for under 5 dollars or less at a popular Polo in a Santa Monica shopping mall. So I made two conclusions: people who buy this stuff are either the filthy rich Los Angeles .com billionaires who own the multiple Ferraris and Gallardos outside, or regular income people who just want to look filthy rich. The answer…was neither.
The second thing I noticed was who was shopping at these stores. Not only did I not see one resident of Southern California in the stores besides the employees, but everyone in the store wasn’t even from the West — mostly not even America. And at that moment the awful truth struck me — these people (who were actually buying this stuff relentlessly) had fallen under the misconception that makes places like Vegas so famous. If you are looking at a stereotype movie shown about Los Angeles, it is almost guaranteed to show the juiciest parts of LA — the expensive shops that the not even the actors in real life would shop at. My point? To foreigners, Los Angeles is Beverly Hills, and it would be like going to Vegas and not visiting a casino to not feed off of the Hills. In fact, for the average tourist I saw there (a Japanese couple and their two sons), it would be virtually impossible to see the real essence of the great city of Los Angeles without a local to show you away from the luring lies of Beverly Hills, and into the real Los Angeles — the city. For example, when I visit South America in a few weeks, (as an American) I will most certainly be shown into the finest of hotels and dining, probably missing what is really what the whole city is about — digging deep into the rich history and life of the places I will be traveling to. This is the exact same feeling that couple from Japan probably was lured into when traveling to Los Angeles.
I am not claiming that Beverly Hills is bad for the city, it is an important asset of Los Angeles’s culture. But I encourage all travelers who may be reading this to find someone local and stay away from the tour busses that only shuttle to the glamorous stops, but to really go into Los Angeles and learn — not necessarily the history of the city, but the culture and the town hubs that really show what LA is all about to me — the greatest city ever.
July 23, 2008
With today’s economy problems, many sports car enthusiasts have already given up their golden dream of once owning a 200+ Ferrari, rolling down Beverly Hills while blinded by cell phone camera flashes by awestruck, sidelined civilians that own beat-up Honda Civics. And now, they themselves have become part of the crowd, the daring ones maybe getting a hold of a Nissan 350Z or a low-end Mustang. But when they are standing on the sidewalk with their buddies, staring at a beautiful red Corvette cruising by, they would just laugh and imagine the driver’s face after filling up day after day. But little do they know that the driver of that supercar won’t be pulling in for gas anytime soon, for their 430 brake horsepower beast gets 27 to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. No joke. That’s why I’m calling the Corvette Z51 the ultimate car. There is no other car in the world today that has the satisfaction and looks of a supercar, the performance (ziltch to 60 in 4.25 seconds), outstanding efficiency, and above all – a price that won’t make you keel over. The Z51 packs a better punch as cars twice its price ($56,185 as tested). So why haven’t people taken the bait yet? I don’t know. With a car so good looking you’d swear its Italian, performance so good you’d swear it was Italian, and a price tag that is everything but Italian, you’ve got one thing for sure – I’m saving up for my 16th birthday already.
July 22, 2008
Although you may call me biased because of my age, I find it both funny and frustrating that people who aren’t familiar to texting look at messages like they are written in Chinese. Even as a novice texter, people look over my shoulder whenever I am writing a message and gasp when I type something that’s not in English. There are even wikipedia articles and guide books written by middle aged men which attempt to explain the language, which are completely incorrect (I wonder why). The truth is (in my opinion), anyone over 23 should not even try to learn text, just because the only way to learn it is to talk to 13 year old gossip queens over 50 times a day, and unless you are a stalker, that’s pretty hard to do. But if you do try to learn it, I’m laying down some ground rules for anyone over 30. Number one: please don’t say any text lingo out loud in public (I’ve seen it done many times). It’s just really wrong and makes you look like you are either drunk or your very uneducated. And especially parents, if you say any text to your kids out loud, prepare to be ignored for a time ranging (by the number of text words you said, your tone of voice, and hand motions) from a week to a 5 months. I’m serious. Last rule: When your kid goes to the bathroom and you see his/her computer open, fight the urge to talk to your child’s online friends. I understand the parental need, but successfully executing this task is impossible when you try to imitate your child’s texting. Even if you are fluent in text, your child’s friend will at once know someone new is typing, because of the speed of your words, your language (there are words you don’t know and some you will use that your kid never uses), and last, there is usually a video chat window that is hidden behind other documents, so the friend can see you. This has happened many times to my friends, and trust me, they will always find sneaky ways to get back at the parents who are spying on them. My point here? Texting is a dog eat dog world, and if you aren’t accustomed to the tricks and trades, the hunter will become the hunted.