BMW, Horses, Justice Kennedy.

Posted in Opinion on October 28th, 2011 by byronkho

This pre-owned BMW ad ran in Greece. Ballsy… especially the syphilis afterwards.

Why you should eat horsemeat. It’s funny how people in the US are so delicate about eating horse and cat and dog, when they’re eaten by so many cultures around the world. I don’t eat “pet” animals because I’m weirded out about the taste and my own cultural familiarity with them as a non-table animal, but if YOU eat them, I find it no more abominable than eating any other animal on the planet. It’s not against nature – persuade wolves to stop chewing up deer and rabbits, and maybe you’ll be able to sway me then – so all those people who are so emotional about not eating horses, you can go bite it. Old racehorses are put down all the time as they’re expensive to keep up, have limited value as a pet, and are not too often used as petting zoo or riding school nags. What’s wrong with reusing the horse when they’re no longer valued by the community they’re in? To me, putting them down is just as “cruel” as eating them, and it’s a waste of meat that could totally feed a crowd of hungry people! Babe was a cute pig, but that doesn’t stop us from stuffing pulled pork in our faces at the family BBQ. Of course, humane treatment should be observed at all times when dealing with animals, and yes, there need to be health standards when dealing with meat products… if those are currently lacking in the horsemeat industry, then that’s an issue to resolve – but not a real argument against eating horse in general. After all that… I still find horsemeat chewy, weird tasting and generally something I’d usually stay away from. Like pheasant.

Justice Kennedy says this in Citizens United: “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Slate goes into why this is bad for the citizenry.

It’s a good political and legal analysis, but I would like to comment as well, from a simplistic generalized standpoint. I don’t know how anybody can claim that money from whatever source has no ability to corrupt, because that’s just stupid. Money can corrupt. It may not necessarily do so, but the possibility is always there. For a Supreme Court justice to believe otherwise is to show a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature.

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Posted in Personal on October 25th, 2011 by byronkho

At the Curtis gala with Llewellyn, Jess and Steve. Photo by Steven Ujifusa.

At Alex’s housewarming. Photo by Steven Ujifusa.

Commenting on the News.

Posted in Opinion on October 24th, 2011 by byronkho

I. Elitism

The Economist this year rated Dartmouth’s business school as Number 1, with Wharton coming in Number 15, with rankings heavily influenced by percentage of students getting hired after graduation.

From the Daily Pennsylvanian.

Yet, Wharton still churns out douchebags who make fun of Occupy Philly protesters by:
a) telling them to “get a job”, which is less easy than it sounds, and
b) “get in our bracket”, referring to the 1%.

Stupid. The kids who bothered to make fun from the balcony are only publicizing their douchebaggery (and hopefully, their names will be blacklisted from firms for such unwise public relations stunts on their own behalf) but also are rather idiotic. After all, didn’t the investment banks themselves lay off tons of Wharton graduates during the past several years (yikes, Bear Stearns, Lehman, etc.), many of whom moved back into their parent’s homes and are now working miles from Wall Street? And still being in school, these kids won’t know if they will be the % that are not getting hired after graduation (of which there certainly will be some, since Dartmouth is apparently more successful at ensuring employment) or if they will be among the % that are hired… and then fired. For being an asshole at work.

Plus, they’re not even in the bracket yet. Unless their parents actually gave them assets in their names or they were some sort of precocious genius already hired by the fat cats for being a financial wizard, all these kids are not anywhere in the 1% until after they graduate. Why? Primarily because the 1% refers to wage-earners. And wage-earners these kids are not:

1) They still owe all their loans back. A large percentage will have had loans to finance their undergraduate education which is quite expensive.
2) I-banking firms and other such institutions that “hire” Wharton undergrads for summer work and in-year hours typically pay nothing or very little. Those students are working at those places for experience, not cash. They may get pitched during their last year and given a large signing bonus, but… I think it’s a bit early in the year for that to have happened.
3) Their family being rich does not translate to the student either being personally rich or earning a wage.
4) The great majority of Wharton students are not earning $1.5 million a year, or it would be unlikely they’d still be attending Wharton. (Unless, of course, you’re a legacy who need not worry about keeping up the fabulously paid job while going to school, since that sort of job will naturally be waiting for them afterwards regardless. And by the way, Dartmouth happens to be very vocal about not giving legacies undue privilege in getting in. It must be true, since they risked losing alumni donors – and did.)

To those kids on the balcony: you went to Wharton for a chance at being the 1%. By family background, luck and hard work, you ended up able to get and (initially) finance a Wharton education. It’s not even sure you can pay it all back. So you’re merely one step higher on the ladder. Until you reach the 1%, you’re not the 1%, and you’re merely being hypocritical. And unfortunately, by being so crass about it, you show just how grasping and peasant-like you actually are. It’s just “not done” for the elite to be so crass in public; better to ignore the hoi polloi and do your pooh-poohing with the other fat cats in the private rooms of your Club. See, those guys know how to do it without getting egg on their face. Now, you’re just mimicking Marie Antoinette, who also spoke from a balcony: ‘let them eat cake’ proceeded very quickly to her neck getting mashed into cake.

Ahh, elitism. Not all people at Wharton and Penn are like these idiots, and they give the rest of us a black eye.

II. Afghanistan.

The local economy in Afghanistan seems to be made primarily of two things: 1) opium and 2) IEDs. Apparently, farmers all thru Afghanistan plant and then harvest opium; once that is finished for the year, they get hired out by the Taliban to make, plant and trigger IEDs. A military analyst pointed out that IED creation and maintenance employed 15,000 Afghanis – which counts as a definite growth sector in the local economy. Pair that to the $60 billion the Pentagon spends to combat IEDs, with a 50% success/failure rate. As for opium: the annual “legal” GDP brought in by opium since 2002 has fluctuated but is generally around 2 billion dollars – which is 1/3 of Afghanistan’s economy. That doesn’t include illicit trading or payment “in kind” via arms and intelligence from partners in Pakistan and Russia.

III. Steve Jobs vs. Dennis Ritchie

Everyone mourns Steve Jobs, but very few mourn Dennis Ritchie. Who was he? Only the guy that made Steve Jobs’ lucrative career possible. Ritchie invented C, a programming language whose offshoots run almost all of the popular consumer technologies out there. Objective C is the programming language used to run all things Apple. C++ and C# drives Windows. Android uses Java, which adopted a lot of C’s architecture. Ritchie’s invention has thus driven trillions of dollars in sales and encouraged decades of opentechnological innovation. Not to mention his creation of Unix… Jobs, in comparison, has only driven billions and perhaps one decade of gated innovation. Yes, Jobs made a few cool gadgets and a few funny movies, but his actual legacy pales in comparison to a Bell Labs engineer who did good work and then died from cancer in his home without any public fanfare at all.

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Catching up!

Posted in Personal on October 15th, 2011 by byronkho

Emiliana Torrini in Iceland. HOT!

Not enough time spent posting, too much time spent doing. Here’s the recap:

September 17: Paintball. Went out to Jersey to hunt what Rainier Wolfcastle terms “the deadliest game of all.” First time, but I took a few people down with me.

September 23: Helium Comedy Club. J.C.’s friend hosted for some big comedians. Pretty good stuff. Except that waitress was TERRIBLE. Really now.

September 24: Alex’s Housewarming. Nice house. The inside renovations were awesome, and I don’t know how he managed to get the house with the renovations – must be haunted or something. Gotta be a reason for a sweet buy like that.

September 27: First meeting as new member of the Curtis Crescendo Club steering committee. Fun people supporting good music, and from all walks of life in Philly. Had a great time feeling officious with Susy Schultz Keller, Dean Vetsikas, Melissa Page, Anna Schuenemann, Bobby Towcimak, Marija Ugrinich, Steven Ujifusa, Madeline Adams and Elizabeth Racheva, plus a few others. Check it out: it’s official.

Toured the Lenfelt Hall building – broke in a piano in a 3rd floor rehearsal room, saw the amazing orchestra rehearsal room and then saw the 5th floor balcony. Drool. Saw the $300,000 window. Then Yards for Penn Club stuff. Cape of Good Hope: good beer. Met Sam Huntington.

September 30: Opening show for Opera Company of Philadelphia is live simulcast of Carmen from Academy of Music to our spot on the grass by Independence Hall.

October 2: Played a few solos for Brandon Grady’s last service as pastor at a church in the Philly suburbs. Good times. Did one of those Love Feast things where you wash your neighbor’s feet, you know, like Jesus did with his disciples. Used lots of hand sanitizer afterwards.

October 3: First rehearsal at the Orpheus Club. Lots of Dark and Stormys, and some good times filling out the Tenor 2 section. Lots of talented musicians in there.

October 4: Visited the basement of University City High School. Admire the tenacity of high school teachers in the city – yes, that’s you, Jim. Plus, he’s got Finale, I was able to transcribe a few songs from Wars & Whores while I was there. I get arranger credit. Oh, and we have a WORLD CAFE LIVE gig for Wars & Whores on January 14. You totally can buy tickets now.

October 5: Helped record a few arias with Liz Zell at Curtis. Fun stuff. Then dinner/drinks with Jessica Lennick, Zelly and Don Marrazzo (now executive director of Astral Artists).

October 6: Night Market in Chinatown with Julie Yannalfo and Cory Walker. Ran into True Trieu and Chippy. Skipped the beer line ahead of 100 people, WIN. Banana Leaf for dinner and then home, away from massive crowds.

October 9: Apollo e Dafne and Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot. Great performers. Alize Rozsnyai was a great Dafne (after she settled into her voice… a little thin for the first 10 minutes). Also great as Ilia during Idomeneo last season. And she’s only 22! Anna Davidson great as crazy Miss Donnithorne, rejected at the altar and the model for Miss Havisham. Ran into Don and one of the Curtis students, who days later I found to be a great violinist. I initially thought she was some high school student writing a report on the concert.

October 11: Classics & Cocktails at Curtis. Amazing. Some great (though slightly uneven) violin performances. I don’t like Steve Reich that much, his stuff sounds a bit lazy – but I’ve heard the percussionists before, and I know they’re good. Wonderful Boccherini to close out the show. Loved the cello work. Cello does happen to one of my favorite instruments. After the show, we head over to Barclay Prime where we get free drinks and appetizers all night. Fun. Met a bunch of good people, including Anna Schuenemann. Late night dinner at the Wishing Well with Anna and bf, who invite me to join their pool league.

October 12: Pool at Perch Pub. First game as member of new league! Won the first, close on the second and then some crap playing after. It’s all right – practice makes perfect. Nice people.

October 13: Meeting with Sam Huntington, then the TIPS party at G Lounge – where I fail to eat dinner and get a little toasted. A bunch of Cornell, Penn, Columbia peeps. Emilie Feldman is there, and Lorna came over to round out the party. Awesome night! Totally worth the $6.

From the last TIPS at Bleu Martini.

October 14: Priscilla comes into town. Zavino for lunch. Touring post offices. Footloose, Running Scared. Cap off a bottle of that Chardonnay that Mike has a bazillion bottles of.

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