Short Review of “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”

It costs one hundred to rent and several hundred to buy,  but watched Who Killed Vincent Chin? last night, courtesy of the University of Nebraska’s Love Library and Rice University’s Fondren Library. Vincent Chin was an engineer who killed in 1982 with the baseball bat by Ronald Ebens, a Chrysler worker.

The documentary was positively reviewd in the New York Times and nominated for an Academy Award. It revolves around interviews with the killer, Ron Ebens, his wife, Juanita Ebens, and the victim’s mother, Lily. Ronald pled guilty to manslaughter (for which he was charged a $3,000 fine) and acquited on a federal civil rights charge. A civil suit was filed after the documentary premiered, and is not covered in the presentation.


In the film, no one comes across worse than County Circuit judge Charles Kaufman (1920-2004). By the end of the film, it’s hard to sustain anger against Ron Ebens or even believe the federal prosecuture’s allegation of a racially-motivated killing: Ron seems to be a working-class thug, and a functioning justice system would process him accordingly. Judge Kaufman apparently did not agree to be interviewed, so his side of the story is told only by an embarrassing clip from an interview, with the judge complaining about being overworked.

Who Killed Vincent Chin is a deep documentary, one that provides a meta-narrative to coverage a scandal I have no memory of, and oen that could be extended an extra half-hour with all that has happened since its debut twenty years ago.

Legacy Gasoline

Along the lines of my thoughts on legacy costs in our transportation infrastructure, comes National Review on the pathway-dependency of our gasoline use:

Re Re Oil Prices – Cliff May – The Corner on National Review Online
Of course, right now ethanol from South America carries a whopping tariff of 54 cents per gallon. By contrast, oil from Venezuela carries a tariff of 0 cents per gallon. I think it’s time to level the playing field (by getting rid of the tariff, not by adding new ones).

And yes, it’s true that we get most of our oil from Canada and Mexico but oil is a fungible commodity. Oil from the Gulf – on which our European allies depend -funds al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah and similar terrorist groups.

Oil is dominant in the market not as a result of competition but because once upon a time America was the world’s leading oil producer. That helped us win World War II (the Germans and the Japanese were both desperate for gasoline –a major cause for their defeat and a cautionary tale). But those days are long gone.

Global peak oil production may come in 2020, but American peak oil demand may be last year.

Of course, from our end, peak oil does not really matter. But from countries the perspective of countries like Russia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, their economies can grow normally once the oil beneath their feat stops propping up their governments.

I hope President-Elect Obama uses his administration to unveil a geogreen stimulus that creates green-collar jobs that help reduce our oil consumption even further.

Props to The Obama Inauguration

I was on google chat when I read the Obama inauguration schedule of events, so my reaction (in a private conversation) is recorded for all posterity:

I have to give it to Obama for his inauguration
sounds like it’s going to be quite the event

Rick Warren, Yo-Yo Ma, Aretha Franlkin, Itzkhak Perlman, and others will make it the hottest ticket in Washinton.

Of course, not everyone is so happy:




Not to mention the progressive movement as a whole. The thing is, there’s no shortage of progressive Christian pastors, ministers and priests who opposed Proposition 8 and are no less Christian than Rick Warren. Sure Warren may be better known, may have sold a whole lot of books and brings with him the added bonus of sending a dog whistle signal to Christian conservatives that he’s their president too, but what about sending a signal to the LGBT community and broader progressive community who, ya know, actually supported him and worked our ass off for him? Reinforcing the false notion that the only real Christians are conservative Christians is NOT change I can believe in at all.


Rick Warren? Are you kidding me?

Why in the name of, well … God, would Obama choose someone whose outspoken beliefs are substantively no different from the James Dobson’s of the world? There’s a thriving progressive religious community in every faith, and many believe the religious left is ascendant.

And the always classy Eschaton:

Wanker of the Day

Barack Obama.

And America Blog:

But Jesus. This is rather uncharacteristic of Obama, making some grand gesture from his gut, and not checking it with his brain, or the brains around him. Unless, of course, his brain trust thought this was a brilliant strategic move. I can easily imagine them thinking, what better than to make a nod to the religious right and the religious left, by having Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery, at his inauguration?

Why stop there? If you really want to show that you’re not the typical Democrat, that you’re breaking the mold and willing to embrace the other extreme of religion and politics, regardless of how much it ticks off your base, why not invite a racist and an anti-Semite too? Just imagine the thrill – one of America’s lead civil rights activists, alongside the first black president of the United States, surrounded by men who think of them as little more than slaves. Talk about change!

But Barack Obama would never invite a high profile racist or anti-Semite to stand next to him during his swearing in, regardless of the bigot’s caché. Obama did, however, invite a raging homophobe – and it’s the second time now that he’s done so – and we’re supposed to suck it up and say “oh it’s okay.” Well it’s not okay. It’s yet another example of how when the bigot is anti-gay, somehow he’s not as offensive, not as non grata, as the bigot who bashes blacks or bashes Jews. None should be acceptable, but one always is

Of course, there is more to do in Washington than watch the inauguration: you can always get mugged or raped: factosr which won’t change until we get serious about fighting crime in the cities.

The Ministry of the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice

Saudi Arabia is not the only country with a Ministry of the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice,” of course. The drug laws in the United States turn city, county, state, and national police into morality enforcers, harassing those who are lazy or permissive instead of catching criminals, terrorists, and ponzi schemers.

I want to thank Soob for pointing me to KopBusters, which apperas to be a show/charity trying to stress the system by demonstrating the dishonesty the war on drugs forces on police departments.

From the description:

“KopBusters rented a house in Odessa, Texas and began growing two small Christmas trees under a grow light similar to those used for growing marijuana. When faced with a suspected marijuana grow, the police usually use illegal FLIR cameras and/or lie on the search warrant affidavit claiming they have probable cause to raid the house. Instead of conducting a proper investigation which usually leads to no probable cause, the Kops lie on the affidavit claiming a confidential informant saw the plants and/or the police could smell marijuana coming from the suspected house.
“The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics unit raided the house only to find KopBuster’s attorney waiting under a system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the KopBuster’s secret mobile office nearby.
“The attorney was handcuffed and later released when eleven KopBuster detectives arrived with the media in tow to question the illegal raid. The police refused to give KopBusters the search warrant affidavit which is suspected to contain the lies regarding the probable cause.”

Raw footage of the raid, with shows cops taking it in good fun (a cell phone camera is notably present), but the point is serious