Thursday, December 28, 2006

Police propose tough new penalties for drink-driving

The National Police Agency (NPA) has finalized tough new measures to fight drink-driving under a proposed revision to the Road Traffic Law, increasing harsher penalties for drivers, passengers and alcohol suppliers.

Penalties for drink-driving were increased in 2001, but the police decided to introduce harsher punishment after an accident in Fukuoka in August killed three young children, and drink-driving emerged as a social problem. Police aim to seek public support for the bill and submit it at a regular session of the Diet next year.

Under the proposal, the current penalty for drivers who are heavily drunk (up to three years' imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 500,000 yen) will be increased to up to five years' imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 1 million yen. The current fine for driving under the influence with an alcohol level of at least 0.15 milligrams of alcohol per liter of expelled breath (imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to 300,000 yen) will be increased to imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen.

Police also plan to get tougher on hit-and-run crimes, increasing the penalty from imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen to imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine of up to 1 million yen.

In addition police will step up measures against people who encourage drink-driving, provide cars to people who have been drinking or provide alcohol to people who are driving.

People who supply vehicles or alcohol to drivers who are heavily drunk will face up to five years' imprisonment or a fine of up to 1 million yen, while in cases of driving under the influence, they will face up to three years' imprisonment or a fine of up to 500,000 yen -- the same penalty as for drivers.

In addition, people who ride in cars with drivers who are drunk will face up to three year's imprisonment or a fine of up to 500,000 yen, while in cases of driving under the influence, they will face a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine of up to 300,000 yen.

The penalty for refusing to take a roadside alcohol test (currently a fine not exceeding 300,000 yen) will be increased to imprisonment of up to three months or a fine of up to 500,000 yen. Police apparently aim to discourage people from evading tests by introducing a prison sentence.

Under the National Police Agency's proposed measures, people will also be required to wear seatbelts in the back seats of vehicles. Previously not wearing a seatbelt in the back seat of a vehicle was not considered a violation of the Road Traffic Law.

In fatal traffic accidents last year, the death rate for back seat passengers not wearing seatbelts was about four times higher than for people wearing seatbelts. However, a survey in October this year showed that only 7.5 percent of backseat passengers in cars on regular roads and 12.7 percent of backseat passengers in cars on expressways were wearing seatbelts. (Mainichi)
Click here for the original Japanese story

December 28, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

A joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics.

Do you know your online rights? Have you received a letter asking you to remove information from a Web site or to stop engaging in an activity? Are you concerned about liability for information that someone else posted to your online forum? If so, this site is for you.

Chilling Effects aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities. We are excited about the new opportunities the Internet offers individuals to express their views, parody politicians, celebrate their favorite movie stars, or criticize businesses. But we've noticed that not everyone feels the same way. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some individuals and corporations are using intellectual property and other laws to silence other online users. Chilling Effects encourages respect for intellectual property law, while frowning on its misuse to "chill" legitimate activity.

The website offers background material and explanations of the law for people whose websites deal with topics such as Fan Fiction, Copyright, Domain Names and Trademarks, Anonymous Speech, and Defamation.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Kobe & Mooch today

moon rises over Angel Island in San Francisco Bay

As the moon rises over Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, a hilltop Christmas tree formed by strings of lights competes for attention Tuesday. Chronicle photo by Frederic Larson

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

no longer man's best friend

Left-handers 'think' more quickly

Left-handers 'think' more quickly
Left-handed people can think quicker when carrying out tasks such as playing computer games or playing sport, say Australian researchers.

Connections between the left and right hand sides or hemispheres of the brain are faster in left-handed people, a study in Neuropsychology shows.

The fast transfer of information in the brain makes left-handers more efficient when dealing with multiple stimuli.

Experts said left-handers tended to use both sides of the brain more easily.

Study leader Dr Nick Cherbuin from the Australian National University measured transfer time between the two sides of the brain by measuring reaction times to white dots flashed to the left and right of a fixed cross.

This seems to go with evidence that left-handers use both sides of the brain for language
Dr Steve Williams

He then compared this with how good participants were at carrying out a task to spot matching letters in the left and right visual fields, which would require them to use both sides of the brain at the same time.

Tests in 80 right-handed volunteers showed there was a strong correlation between how quickly information was transferred across the left and right hemispheres and how quickly people spotted matching letters.

But when the tests were repeated in 20 left-handed volunteers, the researchers found that the more left handed people were the better they were at processing information across the two sides of the brain.

Extreme left-handed individuals were 43milliseconds faster at spotting matching letters across the right and left visual fields than right-handed people.

More efficient

Dr Cherbuin, research fellow at the University concluded: "These findings confirm our prediction of increasing efficiency of hemispheric interactions with increasing left-handedness."

But he added that it wasn't a clear-cut pattern as there were subtle differences between strongly and mildly left-handed or right-handed individuals.

Dr Cherbuin explained that people tended to use both hemispheres for tasks which are very fast or very hard and which require interpretation of a lot of information, such as computer games or driving in heavy traffic or playing sport.

Chartered psychologist, Dr Steve Williams said left-handed people tended to be better at using both sides of the brain.

"It's certainly very interesting. It's always been said that left-handers are different from right-handers in that they are less consistent with their left-handedness.

"This seems to go with evidence that left-handers use both sides of the brain for language - that they are more bicerebral. They get faster at it because they're having to use both sides of the brain more."

"In football, being able to shoot with either foot is a huge asset (each foot like each hand is under opposite-side control) and I've heard that left-handers tend to have better backhands in tennis," he added.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/12/06 11:45:38 GMT


Monday, December 04, 2006

Punk producer thought everyone could be a star

Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

Monday, December 4, 2006

They buried the pope of punk over the weekend.

Many of the neighbors who rose to eulogize Dirk Dirksen, the 69-year-old former operator of the Mabuhay Gardens, the historic San Francisco punk rock club, knew him only as the crinkly eyed character who gave cooking lessons to the kids on the block at the rec center across the street from where he lived and who died in his sleep two weeks ago.

"He had a way of touching so many different people in so many different walks of life," said retired Fire Department Capt. Bob Manning, who worked with Dirksen as a community organizer in the Mission District and knew nothing of his past life as the snarling, sarcastic ringmaster of a circus of the damned that ran seven nights a week, 52 weeks a year for 10 years.

A decidedly ruly mob overflowed an antiseptic funeral chapel in the Outer Mission on Saturday morning. They filled the pews, lined the walls and stood out in the lobby, craning necks over shoulders, saying goodbye to the somewhat strange but rather wonderful man who always urged them to live their lives "onward and upward."

"He was a man in a penis nose telling us it was better to throw popcorn than beer bottles," said his friend Ron Jones. "Dirk knew everybody had a place on the stage of life -- as long as you went on and off on time. You had to remember there were other acts waiting, even if they suck."

Filmmaker Bruce Connor read some of Dirksen's trademark stage announcements: "Tonight's band may not be the best, but you are one of our lesser audiences ... Is that the best you can do to get attention? ... Quiet, animals."

Dirksen was one of the people who really made San Francisco San Francisco. He presided over the Fab Mab, as it was known to one and all, with the bemused tolerance of a cranky uncle who had seen it all and was surprised by nothing.

He saw his little corner of Broadway as a reincarnation of a Berlin cabaret or Montmartre theater. He wasn't just selling over-priced drinks to the unwashed masses; he was making theater and everybody was in the cast.

"He loved you for who you were and who you wanted to be," Jones said.

Night after night, four bands trooped across the tiny stage in the seedy former Philippine supper club. As many as 10,000 bands may have played the Mabuhay.

It was where Neil Young jammed with Devo and Robin Williams opened for the Ramones. It was the high point of their career to thousands more, who never went any further up the ranks than the stage at the Mabuhay.

From the very beginning, when he started presenting late-night performances by the female comedy theatrical troupes, Les Nickelettes in 1974, Dirksen envisioned his enterprise as a television show waiting to be broadcast.

He videotaped every performance, long before videotape was routinely available. But he started in show business as the producer of a famous early live television experiment in Los Angeles, "Rocket To Stardom" -- a 12-hour live remote broadcast from a car dealership featuring amateur and semi-professional talent -- and he never really stopped thinking of himself as a television producer.

He and his lifelong partner, Damon Molloy, have operated a video service, Dirksen-Molloy Productions, ever since he left the nightclub business, that has produced storytelling videos on everything from a third-grade girls' basketball team to poetry readings by handicapped adults to senior swimmers' water ballet. Dirksen thought everybody should star in their own movie. He wanted to be the producer.

He was recalled as the man who taught the Latino neighborhood kids cooking in weekly classes at the Recreational Center for the Handicapped.

His older sister remembered him as a young boy in war-torn Germany, playing in his neighborhood after air raids left the street destroyed, making castles out of craters with his imagination.

Another friend recalled Dirksen encouraging him to finish his book by phoning him every morning. "I'm going to work this morning -- what are you doing?" he would say.

It wasn't a crowd full of big time music scenesters and there wasn't a lot of musical star power at the memorial, unless you count an impromptu reunion of the all-female punk rockers, the Contractions, guitarist Mary Kelley seated on a chair, drummer Debbie Hopkins playing softly on a modified kit and vocalist Kathy Peck sobbing her way through the sing-along folk song, "Down In the Valley."

Peck previously recalled Dirksen coming over every day, after her pet Chihuahua was diagnosed with diabetes, to give the pooch its shot because Peck couldn't quite handle it herself.

He was a surly curmudgeon all right, until he got around animals or small children.

In the end, he couldn't even afford to pay for his own funeral. Benefits are in the process of being organized to help pay his debts. But Dirksen was an honest man and they rarely do well in the music business. But, of course, his video and life partner Molloy made sure it was all caught on tape.

"No one is ever going to do anything like that for you ever again," Molloy told them.

E-mail Joel Selvin at

Page C - 1

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sex Will Make You Go Blind: Single? Under 30? You are in grave danger. Your government says so. Please, stop laughing

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I think I get it now.

The latest pitiable GOP plan, from what I can tell, goes something like this: To make it all so absurd, to make the remaining Bush administration proposals and doctrines and cultural stratagems so outlandish and silly and degrading and insulting to your mind and your heart and your very own beleaguered genitalia that you cannot help but take note of their existence and laugh and cringe and sit back and go, Oh my God these people have got to be kidding.

At which point (they hope) you will turn to your spouse or your significant other or your dog and say, Hey honey, check this out, did you see the latest moronic and horrible dictum from the Bush administration? We should totally try it, just for kicks!

Then the GOP will gloat and say: See? The world still loves the GOP! Yay us! And then they shall proceed to smack themselves in the face with a brick.

It is the only viable explanation. It is the only way to account for something like, say, the latest twist in the Abstinence Education Program from Bush's increasingly laughable Department of Health and Human Services, a $50 million slice of embarrassing government detritus that is now actually encouraging all states to tell their single, youngish residents that they should -- how to put this so you don't shoot coffee through your nose? -- that everyone should avoid sex entirely, until they turn 30.

See? See your reaction? You are like: No way. You are like: Is the United States government really saying that? You are like: Laughter, a smirk, maybe a shrug and a sigh and a sad shake of the head and another glass of wine because, you know, what the hell is wrong with these people?

Maybe you think I am making this up. Maybe you think that our fair government, as sad and lost and nipple-terrified as it is, can't seriously be suggesting that, to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancy and unchecked misery in their obviously sad and irresponsible little lives, single people under 30 should not have sex, like, ever. And maybe not even then.

You would, of course, be wrong.

It's for real. It's an actual HHS dictum and there are people who actually believe it should be adhered to, and I'm right now guessing you broke this rule this very morning and if you didn't you really, really wanted to, and if you're over 30 and/or married chances are you are sitting there right now wishing you were still single and/or under 30 just one more time just so you could squishily, juicily break that rule again, oh my God yes please. Just a guess.

Ah, abstinence education. Could there be a more dizzy, glaring example of a first-rate BushCo failure? Could there be a more insulting, demeaning program the sole intention of which appears to be to deceive humanity and undermine every succulent human impulse and shove sexuality back into the 1850s and induce 10 million teens to resent and mistrust adults even more than they already do? Verily I say unto thee, there is not.

To be fair, the HHS says this new rule is just a guideline, not strict dogma. No one actually has to refrain from having sex until they're married or 30, because that would be, you know, silly. Draconian. Talibanian.

Also: Were it actually imposed, everyone in America except perhaps for a few confused evangelicals and most Mormons would not be able to stop laughing -- a side effect that, while it might stop some people from having sex for a few moments, would do very little by way of helping the government scare Americans stupid.

It is enough to make you wonder: Will there ever be, in our lifetime, a president, a Senate subcommittee, a government program that will dare emerge with a sex-positive, unashamed, salacious and delicious new guideline suggesting that we should all get naked as much as possible so long as we work to understand our bodies and enjoy ourselves responsibly and lovingly and respectfully and orgasmically because it shall make the country and the planet a better place?

In other words, will there ever be a time when we can honestly look to the United States government for valid and reasonable and healthy and truly informative, positive information about human sexuality, information that does not embarrass us and humiliate us and insult our libidos the same way Dick Cheney insults sunlight? Do you already know the answer?

I remember Joycelyn Elders. I remember this feisty and outspoken surgeon general, appointed by Clinton back in '93, who dared to suggest, in public, that masturbation is fine and healthy and nothing to worry about and perhaps should be taught to teens as a safer alternative to riskier forms of sex.

The nation blinked. The Christian right, of course, was apoplectic. Clinton was forced to ask Elders for her resignation. Later, on the lecture circuit, Elders famously said, "As long as I was in Washington I never met anybody that I thought was good enough, who knew enough or who loved enough to make sexual decisions for anybody else." And there you have it.

This is what I wonder: I wonder if every administrative lackey who is right now stuck deep in the bowels of HHS and who is assigned to the dissemination of sneering abstinence misinformation, I wonder if they sigh heavily every day, if they stare miserably at the beige government walls, at their buggy Windows terminals, lost in a vague misery, wishing they could have more sex, curious as to where their life went wrong.

I wonder, if you asked them, would you hear the common refrain of those locked in miserable and joyless jobs under the Bush regime? "I have no idea how it came to this. I have no idea how I got here, doing this horrible thing in this horrible place with these miserable people and this awful boss. Every single day, my very soul is being leached through my teeth. What the hell happened to me?"

I believe this is how it must be, tenfold, in the Department of Health and Human Services, Abstinence Division. Among those who are charged with spreading the worst and most debilitating sexual propaganda BushCo has to offer: only misery. Joyless, sexless, unfortunate as the right-wing congressmen who shoved this bitter and lubeless ideology onto their daily plate.

I know, I know, it's all a bit silly. After all, the Bush government is all about restriction, contraction, containment and self-righteousness and pain. They're about as likely to pump out some positive sex vibes as the pope is to offer free condoms in the Vatican gift shop.

But Jesus with a Hitachi Magic Wand, one thing you can reasonably hope for is a government that's at least remotely in touch and relevant, the slightest bit informed about how life really is and hence will stop throwing these obnoxious bones to the gasping sexless Christian right. This is what you hope.

Meanwhile, we're still stuck with the same old questions: Is this really what our government is all about? Will this ever change? Can they really not hear all the derisive laughter?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Do you think we're sexy?

Do you think we're sexy?
- By Jeff Yang, Special to SF Gate
Thursday, November 22, 2006

Click to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to ViewClick to View

As George Clooney celebrates his second time around as People's "Sexiest Man Alive," Jeff Yang looks at the status of Asian men in American culture. From Gedde Watanabe in "16 Candles" to Daniel Dae Kim in "Lost," it seems like the image of the Asian male has come a long way, baby. Or ... has it?

Flipping through my glossy copy of People's annual "Sexiest Man Alive" issue (Double sized! Over 200 hunks-a hunks-a burnin' love inside!) has led me to a couple of quick conclusions. The first is that George Clooney is, indeed, a piping-hot serving of manwich. I mean, I'm a straight, married male with a kid, but I can still see how if I were of a different gender or sexual orientation, I'd have great difficulty throwing Clooney out of bed for eating whole-grain Tuscan crostini.

The second is that, even so, Clooney is not even close to my pick for the Sexiest Man Alive. In fact, I wouldn't even call him the sexiest man in the Nov. 27 edition of People. That's because the issue also contains Yul Kwon, described by People's editors in interviews as a Sexiest Man Alive "finalist" and profiled in the mag's section on "Sexy Men in Sexy Environments."

Clooney is smart, funny, owns an Italian villa, and is the kind of sharply dressed man that ZZ Top correctly noted every woman's crazy 'bout. But Kwon is another creature entirely -- a genetic specimen so undeniably ideal (at least in comparison to yours truly, as both wife and mother have hinted) that he prompts thoughts of the classic comedy "Twins."

This is Yul: classically sculpted features, egg-carton abs, able to reconstruct civilization on a desert island with nothing more than a pair of coconuts and a feral chicken. And this is me: laughably doughy features, egg-shaped physique, desperately trying to file a piece on sexy Asian guys before my editor sends burly men to snap my fingers like takeout chopsticks. It shouldn't be difficult to identify who's the Arnie and who's the Danny in this comparison.

"The thing about Yul that's compelling is that he's smart, he's strong, he's a leader, but he knows when to show strength and when to be restrained, and God, look at those abs," says Cynthia Wang, People's associate L.A. bureau chief. "Everyone was saying, 'Wow, we can't miss that man, the way he looks, the way he behaves -- he's got to be part of this issue.' And as both an Asian American and, admittedly, a reality TV junkie, it's great to see that."

There are other Asian men in the "Sexiest Man Alive" issue, too -- including "Harold and Kumar"'s John Cho, "Lost"'s Daniel Dae Kim and Hong Kong pop idol/"Grudge 2" star Edison Chen. In fact, if you take it at face value that People magazine is a reflection of, well, people and their attitudes toward mainstream popular culture, you'd have to say that the image of Asian men has taken an enormous leap forward in the two decades since the "Sexiest Man" issue was inaugurated (with the original honor going to Mel Gibson -- lo, how the mighty have fallen).

Not So Fast, a Bit More Furious?

Of course, not everyone buys into that line of reasoning. Take for example Ethan Lee, UC Berkeley grad and creator of a buzzed-about new Web comic called "Single Asian Female," which he calls an attempt to encapsulate some of what he learned in his Asian American Studies classes into "a form that's easy to read and understand."

If it seems a little weird for guy to be writing a strip called "Single Asian Female," well, Lee says it's because he wanted to talk about issues that could only be effectively expressed from the point of view of an Asian American woman -- "like the story about Asian females getting hit on by white guys with Asian fetishes."

Also, as some on the Web have suggested, people are a lot more likely to read a strip with an Asian American female protagonist -- just like they're more willing to watch news with an Asian American anchor, or more likely to accept an Asian woman as a romantic lead.

"Asian men are still stereotyped as geeky, sexless losers, including by some Asian American women," says Lee. "I remember that even in my Asian American Studies classes, there were two or three Asian women who bragged how they only date white men. I distinctly remember one of them saying, 'I'm afraid an Asian man might beat me,' and another saying, 'Well, I've always been attracted to the Abercrombie and Fitch model type.'"

But, I ask him, is that really representative? Even if there are attitudes like that out there, it's hard to think that those are really the norm today. Certainly things have changed in the past 20 years, with society moving -- slowly -- toward a more progressive, inclusive standard of beauty, right?

Lee doesn't think so. "Go to any newsstand, and just stand back and look at the magazine rack," he says. "Over 90 percent of the people looking back are going to be white. If you exclude Beyonce, Oprah and a bunch of athletes, you're talking more like 99 percent. That's what Asian Americans internalize when they think about who's sexy, about who they want to get with. They think: 'White people are sexy, and we want to get it on with a guy like George Clooney.'"

Jeff Adachi, San Francisco public defender and producer/director of "The Slanted Screen," a documentary exploring the evolution of the Asian male image in film and television, is somewhat more sanguine. "Slanted Screen" also makes the case that representation in media both reflects and impacts societal attitudes -- but Adachi believes that the worst excesses of Hollywood history are behind us, and a new breed of Asian American actors, producers and directors is crashing the show-biz gates in a way that's not only increasing the number of Asians in film and on TV but reframing the way we're being portrayed as well.

"Historically, it's true, Hollywood tended to take three steps forward and two steps back," he says. "But we're positioned now to make much larger gains than in the past. You look at this younger generation of Asian Americans, who didn't grow up immersed in civil rights, and the idea of being constrained by race is completely foreign to them. ["Mad TV" cast member] Bobby Lee, he told me he never auditions for an Asian role, because he knows he's not going to get it -- it's going to go to the really good-looking Asian guy. So he only auditions for 'white' roles -- and he gets them, because he's funny and talented and doesn't have any baggage. He went out for a commercial that was looking for a 'mountain man,' a guy living out by himself in the wilderness, and he said he was the only person of color to show up for the audition. Everyone else was a big, bearded Caucasian guy. And he got the role."

I'm Too Sexy (for This Column)

That brash, damn-the-torpedoes, what-do-I-have-to-lose sensibility isn't just a blueprint for storming the gates of Hollywood; it's also a critical ingredient in the recipe for masculine sex appeal, regardless of race, ethnicity and culture. A nation of emo boys notwithstanding, being comfortable with who you are, even defiantly so, can make the gnarliest of dudes a lovebeast of epic proportions. It's what makes mirror-shattering rock stars like Mick Jagger, Steve Tyler and Ric Ocasek such model magnets (well, that and a few million in the bank).

"I think if you compare the general demeanor and attitudes of young Asian American men now versus a generation ago -- when people like you and me were coming of age -- you'll find a lot more self-confidence," says Oliver Wang, cultural critic, assistant professor of sociology at California State University, Long Beach, and fellow blogger at the Asian American papa community Rice Daddies. "Not that we've reached the promised land of secure masculinity yet. Hell, what men have?"

Karin Chien, producer of "The Motel" and "Robot Stories," agrees. "Sexiness comes from within," she says. "It's confidence and power and success and humor all rolled up into one big package. Sexiness is knowing that you're hot, no matter what anyone else in the room -- or anyone at People magazine -- says."

Which brings me to my biggest reflection upon perusing this year's "SMA." Clooney isn't the sexiest man in the issue. But Yul Kwon, for all of his drop-forged perfection, isn't, either. From my humble perspective, 2006's Sexiest Man Alive is none other than Masi Oka, breakout star of the hit show "Heroes."

I've dropped a lot of love on "Heroes" recently, not only because I'm an addict of the program but because I think it captures the zeitgeist in a way that other series -- including the desperate denizens of Wisteria Lane and the Other-haunted castaways of "Lost" -- do not. We live in a time when we're searching for heroes. But in searching for them, we're also redefining them, casting them in new and more mundane images. We don't want flash, we want familiarity. We're seeking the extraordinary, but with an accent on the ordinary.

The heroic quest of Oka's character, Hiro Nakamura, isn't just saving the world; it's reframing the cultural dialogue on masculinity and sexual appeal, and reinventing the notion of heroism itself. Recent episodes have shown a new side to Hiro -- his romantic streak -- and my friends and I hope that the show's writers let him succeed in his chivalrous journey to save his perky soul mate, a Texas greasy-spoon waitress with superhuman mnemonic powers. (And yes, she's white, though interracial relationship issues seem refreshingly abstracted in "Heroes" -- there are at this count three significant trans-ethnic couples in the series, with nary a single reference yet to race, which, depending on your perspective, is either a sign of more tolerant times or proof positive that the show exists in a parallel universe.)

Hiro is a doughy, bespectacled and flamboyant out-of-the-cubicle geek -- a manga addict, a comic book fanboy, a hard-core Trekker. But he's so at one with his inner dork (which is also his outer dork) that it all ultimately proves irresistibly charming -- even, you know, sexy.

"I was talking to Tim Kring, the show's creator, and he told me that Hiro's character is completely the work of Masi," says People's Wang. "The way Hiro was written, the character wasn't nearly as funny and interesting as Masi's made him. The way Masi decided to play him has actually changed the direction of how the season's playing out. Did you know that all the Japanese dialogue in the show -- Masi does the translations himself. The script is written in English, and Masi converts the lines that are supposed to be in Japanese into phrases that are appropriate, slangwise. And that's kind of lost on people who don't speak the language. But it's part of what has made his character so authentic and appealing."

That's the ticket, right? It's always been out there -- it's the moral of every made-for-teens TV movie, the end zone of every sitcom's "Very Special Episode": Be at home in your own skin -- don't try to reformat yourself to the world's expectations, be yourself, love yourself, and just maybe, the world will follow.

Of course, we -- and the cast of "Heroes" -- have a long way to go before we can fix the world's problems. For one thing, the online poll at People's Web site, asking readers to vote on the show's sexiest male cast member, has Masi Oka stuck at 2 percent; floppy-haired Milo Ventimiglia is in the lead at 30 percent. I'm not saying that everyone who reads this should head over and crash the vote. But on the other hand, on behalf of Masi, me and hundreds of thousands of other happily (extra)ordinary dweebs, I leave you with this cryptic message:

Save the fanboy. Save the world.

Jeff Yang forecasts new Asian and Asian American consumer trends for the market-research company Iconoculture ( He is the author of "Once Upon a Time in China: A Guide to the Cinemas of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China" (Atria Books) and co-author of "I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action" (Ballantine) and "Eastern Standard Time" (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin). He lives in New York City. Go to to join Jeff Yang's biweekly mailing list offering updates on this column and alerts about other breaking Asian and Asian American pop-culture news.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Transvestite troubadour a sucker for the tall, possessive type

Transvestite troubadour a sucker for the tall, possessive type

Cross-dressing crooner Izam has shocked Japanese sensibilities through marriage once again, moving from a squeaky voiced ex-spouse to tying the knot with squeaky clean actress Miho Yoshioka, who's already three months pregnant, screams Shukan Josei (11/28).

Izam, who fronted the mid-'90s visual band Shazna, was introduced to the thespian in November last year by a mutual friend, and the singer-cum-director and Yoshioka began dating in secret shortly afterward.

The couple are not yet living together, but are apparently spending much of their time looking for a place to live.

Yoshioka, 26, reportedly enjoys cooking and apparently went over to Izam's apartment to make meals for him on a number of occasions.

"When I'm cooking something I like, I go into my own dream world," Shukan Josei quotes her telling a magazine interview.

Izam, on the other hand, has earned a reputation for feminine beauty surpassing that of even the most stunning women. But he's recently declared that he's giving up the girdles and girl garments and moving from music to movies.

"Izam got back with his band in September, which was the first time they'd worked together in six years," a reporter on the showbiz beat tells Shukan Josei. "He made his directorial debut with the movie 'Canonne,' which starred Yoshioka and opened in theaters in July. Their love bloomed and even at this stage their public and private lives were intertwined."

Izam's marriage is not his first, though this time around wedlock is not as controversial as his initial nuptials were back in 1999. Izam's first wife was model and then-teenage actress Hinano Yoshikawa, who's also known for her shrill, piercing voice some have likened to the knife-like wail of a harpy.

So unexpected was their marriage, and the bride so young, the union was deemed "playing mamas and papas" and few were surprised when the marriage ended in an acrimonious divorce after just seven months.

Though now more mature, there are still some alarming signs, especially when it comes to the similarities between Yoshioka and Yoshikawa. Both Izam's wives are around 168-centimeters tall (which is pretty lofty for a Japanese woman) and they also share the common trait of being overly protective of their man. Yoshikawa once boasted of being the type who "gets jealous at the family dog."

Current wife Yoshioka has also talked along similar lines.

"I've always wanted a simple kind of love life," Shukan Josei quotes Yoshioka telling one interviewer. "The problem is, I'm the type who gets really jealous, really easily, which means I probably won't be able to find the plain type of love I've always looked for." (By Ryann Connell)

November 17, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Depressed Moochie

Moochie is upset with me because I got a cone & can't go to Shadow's for the week. She wants me gone!

doing better

So I was in the back yard looking for Skloot - I found her near the pond then that dog from next door started barking at us & Skloot jumped back into the pond. Maybe next time I can get a picture of her.


13 Nov. 2006
Because I kept licking my "hot spot" I had to get this cone. Now I can't go to Shadow's for the week! The stupid humans think I'll knock stuff over in the house.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Naked man arrested after pulling awl from rectum

Naked man arrested after pulling awl from rectum
By Karl Fischer

A police encounter with a naked man near the El Cerrito BART station turned into an arrest on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon Thursday.

Passers-by called officers about 7:50 a.m. to report that a naked man was lying on a tree stump beside the Ohlone Greenway path, exposing himself and masturbating.

Police saw 33-year-old John Sheehan and arrested him on suspicion of indecent exposure.

Officers led him to the nearest street, the 2000 block of Kearney Avenue. Before putting Sheehan in the back of his car, Sgt. Paul Keith asked him if he had anything on him that police should know about.

Sheehan replied that he had hidden a screwdriver in his anal cavity, Horgan said.

Unsure about what to do, police called for a fire engine. Firefighters quickly decided that an emergency room would be better equipped to deal with the situation.

Sheehan interceded before an ambulance was called.

"When he heard what they were talking about, he said, 'Hey, don't worry about it. I can do it,'" said El Cerrito Detective Cpl. Don Horgan.

Mindful that a 6-inch metal awl wrapped in black electrical tape could be used as a weapon, officers kept their weapons trained on the 33-year-old.

Sheehan went quietly afterward, without explanation.

Sheehan was paroled from state prison last week and listed an address in Pittsburg, Horgan said. Police booked him into County Jail in Martinez on suspicion of parole violations, indecent exposure and one felony count of possessing a concealed weapon.

Reach Karl Fischer at 510-262-2728 or

Saturday, October 21, 2006

YouTube shared user data with studio lawyers

YouTube shared user data with studio lawyers
Video site helped Paramount Pictures track down and sue filmmaker
By Ben Charny, MarketWatch
Last Update: 5:04 PM ET Oct 20, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- It's no secret that millions of Internet users every day watch copyright-infringing video clips on YouTube, the upstart Web site that Google Inc. has agreed to acquire for $1.65 billion.
What's less known is that YouTube has been watching the watchers.
YouTube's actions in response to a subpoena it received in May show that it has been keeping tabs on users who post copyrighted material to its site -- and in one case shared the name of a user with lawyers from a Hollywood film studio.
On May 24, lawyers for Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures convinced a federal judge in San Francisco to issue a subpoena requiring YouTube to turn over details about a user who uploaded dialog from the movie studio's "Twin Towers," according to a copy of the document.
'I was happy to utilize YouTube when it was still not clearly established. It felt a bit utopian, even though the days for that were clearly numbered.'
— Chris Moukarbel, filmmaker
YouTube promptly handed over the data to Paramount, which on June 16 sued the creator of the 12-minute clip, New York City-based filmmaker Chris Moukarbel, for copyright infringement, in federal court in Washington.
That YouTube chose to turn over the data, rather than simply remove the offending video from its site -- as it did Friday when it agreed to take down 30,000 videos at the request of a group of Japanese media companies -- came as a surprise to copyright experts.
"YouTube seems to have given up too easily," said Laurence P. Colton, an intellectual-property lawyer at the firm of Powell & Goldstein LLP in Atlanta.
Its prompt legal capitulation suggests that YouTube users who post copyrighted material should not expect the company to protect them from media-business lawsuits, said Colton, whose firm wasn't involved in the Paramount subpoena or lawsuit and who learned of them from a MarketWatch reporter.

The "Twin Towers" episode is reminiscent of the way the entertainment industry vanquished the first version of Napster Inc. (NAPS
napster inc com and other digital-music sites that made it easy to download copyrighted songs over the Internet.

Music company lawyers first warned and then sued individual users who downloaded their songs. Now it looks like piracy hunters for the movie studios are using the same technique against YouTube users.

YouTube's decision to help Paramount track down Moukarbel stands in stark contrast to the philosophy of Google, which has fought the U.S. Justice Department over attempts to access data about consumers who use its search services.

Google ) (GOOG has balked at releasing even the most innocuous information about its users' behavior to the U.S. government in the past. Also, it's now battling requests for user details coming from Brazilian and Indian government investigators.

Google declined repeated phone and e-mail requests for comment for this story. Julie Supan, YouTube's senior marketing director, declined comment.

The end of 'utopia'

With more media companies signaling that they will come after YouTube for compensation over copyrighted material, Moukarbel's experience suggests that some of those among the Web site's 40 million users who post copyrighted material can expect legal trouble.

Moukarbel settled the suit after he admitted making the film and agreed to remove it from his own Web site and from YouTube, according to a copy of a court order that was part of the settlement. He also agreed to make an effort to remove it from other sites where it had been posted.
Moukarbel told MarketWatch in an interview that YouTube's actions signaled to him the end of an era for the video site.

"I was happy to utilize YouTube when it was still not clearly established. It felt a bit utopian, even though the days for that were clearly numbered," Moukarbel said.

It remains to be seen if this has any chilling effect on the phenomenal growth of YouTube, which was founded just 20 months ago by former executives of PayPal, the electronic payment firm that was eventually acquired by eBay Inc.

The freewheeling nature of the site - and its apparent cloak of user anonymity -- has helped the upstart become a top 20 Web site whose users watch up to 100 million video clips every day.

A slew of lawsuits like those filed against individual digital music pirates could change that atmosphere, and perhaps the growth rate, of YouTube's online community.

"This community was built as a kind of free-for-all, where people could have a lot of fun and do it rather anonymously," Colton said. "You don't get that kind of community by saying, 'Here, sign up and at the simplest drop of a subpoena, we'll give that information away.' "

To be sure, Google, which hopes to close the YouTube purchase by year's end, has already taken steps to reduce the copyright liability it will inherit from the private firm. Just before it announced the acquisition of YouTube, the two companies signed licensing agreements with several large media firms, including Vivendi's Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG ) , Sony BMG and CBS Corp. (CBS
CBS Corp

Several large entertainment industry providers are now teaming up to request compensation from the site, according to The Wall Street Journal. Viacom (VIA ) , which owns Paramount, estimates that pirated versions of video clips from its MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon channels are watched 80,000 times a day on YouTube, according to the Journal.

Paramount Pictures spokeswoman Nancy Kirkpatrick said that the company's actions against Moukarbel "in no way means we're targeting YouTube." She declined further comment on the lawsuit against Moukarbel.

When asked about YouTube, a spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Industry Association said "we continue to pursue those who violate copyright laws on all levels, and we will continue to monitor YouTube for copyrighted material."

That means YouTube users who post such material could face legal problems similar to Moukarbel's.

Moukarbel, meanwhile, said he harbors no hard feelings toward YouTube about the incident.

"I was happy with its run on YouTube, and, frankly, I was surprised it lasted as long as it did," he said. "That they eventually offered my information to Paramount doesn't bother me at this point." End of Story

Ben Charny is a MarketWatch reporter based in San Francisco

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pearls Before Swine

Veterans History Project (Library of Congress)

Sleuth Now Before It’s Too Late

By Suzanne Freeman

May 2005

If you want to connect with someone about World War II, don’t delay. "My advice for anyone interested in this subject is to get a tape recorder out and get going now," says author Jonathan Gawne. "The veterans are dying and the days of even being able to track down somebody’s Army buddy are almost at a close."

Read everything you can, Gawne says, and use Internet resources, such as websites and message boards [see list below]. Research the National Personnel Records Center, the National Archives and other facilities for documents and photos. Contact veterans organizations. Ask friends and relatives for old letters.

The important thing, he adds, is to keep in mind what you’re really looking for. After his own father died in 1986, Gawne started looking "not for medals or valor or tales of derring-do. I wanted to find out what he had gone through in the hopes of trying to understand the man better."

Web Resources

AARP’s interactive WW II Memorial photo gallery.

The Veterans History Project is a Library of Congress oral history archive sponsored by AARP that provides tips for interviewing veterans.

Dad’s War links to many different groups with their own WWII stories.

The companion website to Jonathan Gawne’s book, Finding Your Father’s War, has resources for researching WWII histories.


Finding Your Father’s War: A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II U.S. Army by Jonathan Gawne, Casemate Publishers (July 2005).

My Father’s War by Julia Collins, Four Walls Eight Windows (2003).

Our Fathers’ War: Growing Up in the Shadow of the Greatest Generation by Tom Mathews, Broadway (May 2005).

Our Mothers’ War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II by Emily Yellin, Free Press (2004).

The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father’s War by Louise Steinman, Plume (2002).

Friday, October 13, 2006

Canada troops battle 10-ft Afghan marijuana plants

Thu Oct 12, 4:52 PM ET

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet (three metre) high marijuana plants.

General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defence staff, said on Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.

"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices ... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said in a speech in Ottawa.

"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.

Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.

One soldier told him later: "Sir, three years ago before I joined the army, I never thought I'd say 'That damn marijuana'."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Position Available--Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Job Title: Chief Librarian
Organization: Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions
Location: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
Description: Are you interested in putting your library science education and experience to work in one of today’s most challenging, interesting and rewarding environments? Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions is recruiting for a Chief Librarian to manage the Detainee Library, under the direction of the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In managing the Detainee Library, the Chief Librarian is responsible for providing, maintaining and developing library services and operations using reading, recreational games and puzzles, music, or electronic media. The Chief Librarian is responsible for selecting and maintaining a range of reading and recreational materials to reflect the needs of the patrons in terms of languages and appropriate/approved topics.

The Chief Librarian will supervise a staff of three (one Assistant Librarian and two Linguist/Library Assistants). The Chief Librarian will also work closely with other contractor and government staff.

To be successful in this job, the Chief Librarian will need to be creative, adaptable, ambitious and resourceful. The ideal candidate will possess a degree in library studies or a closely related field and relevant experience. We will consider extensive experience in library operations and management, in lieu of a degree. This job requires proficiency in English. Applicants must be eligible for a US government secret clearance. If you’re interested in talking in more detail, please e-mail your resume to

Application Information:Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions offers a highly competitive salary and benefit package. Additionally, this job qualifies you for federal tax breaks. Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions is a certified Minority Owned Business and a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business. Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions is an equal opportunity employer


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Xiao Rong vocalist/guitarist of Brain Failure

Xiao Rong
vocalist/guitarist of Brain Failure

by Tim Krysko (03.01.06)

You guys spend a lot of time in the US these days. Do you think you will ever move there?
I don't think I really want to do that. It's not my plan to live in America. If there's a lot of shows I can play, I will be satisfied.

Do you get sick of that plane ride and crossing the Pacific ocean all the time?
Well, we all grew up in China, born between 1975 and 1979. When we were kids our parents could only give us a pretty boring holiday, so we are always happy to get on a plane to go somewhere and play our music. Now we're used to it, and we know that every time we get on a plane we're going to do a fucking great tour, and that tour will make us happy and make our band bigger every day. So whatever bad things, like our van getting broken down in the middle of the freeway in America, it doesn't matter because we're having too much fun with our music.

You played some warped tour shows last year, right? How did you find those after doing a bunch of other tours?
At warped tour we just played a small stage, the Hot Topic stage. It wasn't as well organized as the big stage, but it's interesting because it's not a real tour: people aren't coming especially for you. They're coming to see many bands, and the bigger bands get to play on the main stage. So we just play as good as we can and hand out lots of flyers to the people watching our set. For the regular tour, we always hook up with another bigger band. They have the banner and everyone is coming to see their show, and at the same time all these people are open-minded to see us and another opening band.

When you go back to Beijing do you play a lot of shows there and tour around China?
In October after we toured with the Street Dogs we went back to China and did a whole China tour. We did the China tour a couple times and last time was very good. It was probably twelve shows - there was three cities where there was some problem with the club, but we had fun anyway - and the other twelve shows were all sold out, around 200-300 people.

You still haven't had any luck helping your friends in US bands make it to China?
It's hard to hook up a big band in China. It's easier to bring a band that's not famous. The smaller bands are easier because we just tour with our guitars. We never bring other instruments; we play in a club and use whatever instruments that club has. It's hard to tell a bigger band to come to tour and just bring a guitar. No drums, no speakers...

Do you tour by van?
No, we have to buy train tickets. It's kind of tough but we're used to it by now. Actually there's some news right now, a metal band in China is planning their first van tour. But it's tough, because China's roads weren't built that well like in North America. And the rock and roll scene and the punk rock is small compared to huge China, so we have to just play shows in the big cities, and the drive between can be six hours, twelve hours, or even eighteen hours.

You must have a lot of fun touring the US then. Is it getting better each tour?
Yeah, now we have a lot of fun in the US, so we're doing more tours, because the band is getting better and we're getting bigger fans. People who come to our shows like it, and are coming back, so we're going to keep doing it. I think we're doing pretty good. And we just did a new recording with Ken Casey. Yesterday was the last day of the recording, and Dicky Barrett showed up, because he's good friends with Ken Casey, and he did one verse on "Welcome to Beijing".

Is that one of your new songs?
We're doing two old songs - "Welcome to Beijing" and "Living in the City" - because Ken Kesey really likes those two songs. They're our classic songs, and when we play them in China people go crazy. In total we did six songs: "Welcome to Beijing", "Living in the City", "You're Gonna Die" - maybe you know that one too. We rewrote that song and Ken Casey loved it. We did a slow reggae song called "Fall in Love 2008" - about the Olympic games in Beijing in 2008. Also a new song called "Time to Go", a hardcore song we already started to play at our shows. And one song called "City Junk", and one Sublime cover.

Are you having an easier time writing lyrics in English now?
Yeah, I'm making little steps but I still have a long way to go. Ken Kesey has taught me a lot of things, but my English could still be a lot better.

Do you still do some writing in Chinese?
Yeah, the reggae song is in Chinese. I like to do songs in both Chinese and English so a lot of people can understand in China and America.

Brain Failure official website
Thorp Records
Back To Interviews

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Music taste 'linked to drug use'

Music taste 'linked to drug use'
Dancers at a rave
Club music fans are more likely to take drugs, the study says
More than a quarter of classical music fans have tried cannabis, says a study from the University of Leicester.

Researchers were trying to find out what people's taste in music revealed about their lifestyles.

They discovered that fans of every style of music had taken drugs, with those who preferred DJ-based club music topping the list.

The study also revealed that blues buffs are the most likely to have received a driving penalty.

Mild-mannered fans

More than 2,500 people were interviewed for the study, which is published in the scientific journal Psychology of Music.

They answered questions on their living arrangements, political beliefs, education, work and pastimes.

Fans of musicals come out as the most mild-mannered group, with the lowest level of drug-taking and criminal acts.

They also drink less regularly than other music fans, and are among the most likely to do charity work.

Grease the musical
34% of fans of musicals like Grease do regular charity work

But followers of hip hop and dance music are more likely to have had multiple sex partners over the last five years and were among the biggest drug-takers surveyed.

"It comes out in the study that, in these types of music, fans score worse in various behaviours, such as criminality, sexual promiscuity and drug use," said Dr Adrian North, who led the research.

"It was shown that this had nothing to do with their ethnic backgrounds," he added. "The behaviour was linked purely to musical taste in its own right."

The study did reveal links between education and musical preferences.

People with a PhD or Masters degree are more likely to enjoy opera, jazz, blues or classical music.

Hip-hop fans were the most likely to have attended a fee-paying school.


Musical taste also proved indicative of financial status, with fans of adult pop and classical music the most well-off.

They are even more likely to pay off their credit card bills each month than the less solvent fans of hip-hop, rap, dance and club music.

The report's authors acknowledge that some of these findings are related to age and social class.

To paint a more accurate picture of how musical tastes correlate with people's lifestyles, they are now seeking to expand their survey on a global scale.

They hope to recruit 10,000 interviewees on their website for further research, which is being funded by the British Academy.

"We want to paint the first worldwide picture of who likes what," said Dr North.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The 50 albums that changed music

Sunday July 16, 2006
The Observer

1 The Velvet Underground and Nico
The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)

Though it sold poorly on its initial release, this has since become arguably the most influential rock album of all time. The first art-rock album, it merges dreamy, druggy balladry ('Sunday Morning') with raw and uncompromising sonic experimentation ('Venus in Furs'), and is famously clothed in that Andy Warhol-designed 'banana' sleeve. Lou Reed's lyrics depicted a Warholian New York demi-monde where hard drugs and sexual experimentation held sway. Shocking then, and still utterly transfixing.

Without this, there'd be no ... Bowie, Roxy Music, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Jesus and Mary Chain, among many others.

2 The Beatles
Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

There are those who rate Revolver (1966) or 'the White Album' (1968) higher. But Sgt Pepper's made the watertight case for pop music as an art form in itself; until then, it was thought the silly, transient stuff of teenagers. At a time when all pop music was stringently manufactured, these Paul McCartney-driven melodies and George Martin-produced whorls of sound proved that untried ground was not only the most fertile stuff, but also the most viable commercially. It defined the Sixties and - for good and ill - gave white rock all its airs and graces.

Without this ... pop would be a very different beast.

3 Kraftwerk
Trans-Europe Express (1977)

Released at the height of punk, this sleek, urbane, synthesised, intellectual work shared little ground with its contemporaries. Not that it wanted to. Kraftwerk operated from within a bubble of equipment and ideas which owed more to science and philosophy than mere entertainment. Still, this paean to the beauty of mechanised movement and European civilisation was a moving and exquisite album in itself. And, through a sample on Afrika Bambaataa's seminal 'Planet Rock', the German eggheads joined the dots with black American electro, giving rise to entire new genres.

Without this... no techno, no house, no Pet Shop Boys. The list is endless.

Straight Outta Compton (1989)

Like a darker, more vengeful Public Enemy, NWA (Niggaz With Attitude) exposed the vicious realities of the West Coast gang culture on their lurid, fluent debut. Part aural reportage (sirens, gunshots, police radio), part thuggish swagger, Compton laid the blueprint for the most successful musical genre of the last 20 years, gangsta rap. It gave the world a new production mogul in Dr Dre, and gave voice to the frustrations that flared up into the LA riots in 1992. As befits an album boasting a song called 'Fuck tha Police', attention from the FBI, the Parents' Music Resource Centre and our own Metropolitan Police's Obscene Publications Squad sealed its notoriety.

Without this ... no Eminem, no 50 Cent, no Dizzee Rascal.

5 Robert Johnson
King of the Delta Blues Singers (1961)

Described by Eric Clapton as 'the most important blues singer that ever lived', Johnson was an intensely private man, whose short life and mysterious death created an enduring mythology. He was said to have sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in Mississippi in exchange for his finger-picking prowess. Johnson recorded a mere 29 songs, chief among them 'Hellhound on My Trail', but when it was finally issued, King of the Delta Blues Singers became one of the touchstones of the British blues scene.

Without this ... no Rolling Stones, Cream, Led Zeppelin.

6 Marvin Gaye
What's Going On (1971)

Gaye's career as tuxedo-clad heart-throb gave no hint he would cut a concept album dealing with civil rights, the Vietnam war and ghetto life. Equally startling was the music, softening and double-tracking Gaye's falsetto against a wash of bubbling percussion, swaying strings and chattering guitars. Motown boss Berry Gordy hated it but its disillusioned nobility caught the public mood. Led by the oft-covered 'Inner City Blues', it ushered in an era of socially aware soul.

Without this ... no Innervisions (Stevie Wonder) or Superfly (Curtis Mayfield).

7 Patti Smith
Horses (1975)

Who would have thought punk rock was, in part, kickstarted by a girl? Poet, misfit and New York ligger, Patti channelled the spirits of Keith Richards, Bob Dylan and Rimbaud into female form, and onto an album whose febrile energy and Dionysian spirit helped light the touchpaper for New York punk. The Robert Mapplethorpe-shot cover, in which a hungry, mannish Patti stares down the viewer, defiantly broke with the music industry's treatment of women artists (sexy or girl-next-door) and still startles today.

Without this ... no REM, PJ Harvey, Razorlight. And no powerful female pop icons like Madonna.

8 Bob Dylan
Bringing it All Back Home (1965)

The first folk-rock album? Maybe. Certainly the first augury of what was to come with the momentous 'Like a Rolling Stone'. Released in one of pop's pivotal years, Bringing it All Back Home fused hallucinatory lyricism and, on half of its tracks, a raw, ragged rock'n'roll thrust. On the opening song, 'Subterranean Homesick Blues', Dylan manages to pay homage to the Beats and Chuck Berry, while anticipating the surreal wordplay of rap.

Without this ... put simply, on this album and the follow-up, Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan invented modern rock music.

9 Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley (1956)

The King's first album was also the first example of how to cash in on a teenage craze. With Presleymania at full tilt, RCA simultaneously released a single, a four-track EP and an album, all with the same cover of Elvis in full, demented cry. They got their first million dollar album, the fans got a mix of rock-outs like 'Blue Suede Shoes', lascivious R&B and syrupy ballads.

Without this ... no King, no rock and roll madness, no Beatles first album, no pop sex symbols.

10 The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds (1966)

Of late, Pet Sounds has replaced Sgt Pepper's as the critics' choice of Greatest Album of All Time. Composed by the increasingly reclusive Brian Wilson while the rest of the group were touring, it might well have been a solo album. The beauty resides not just in its compositional genius and instrumental invention, but in the elaborate vocal harmonies that imbue these sad songs with an almost heartbreaking grandeur.

Without this ... where to start? The Beatles acknowledged its influence; Dylan said of Brian Wilson, 'That ear! I mean, Jesus, he's got to will that to the Smithsonian.'

11 David Bowie
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972)

Bowie's revolutionary mix of hard rock and glam pop was given an otherwordly look and feel by his coquettish alter ego Ziggy. It's not so much that every act that followed dyed their hair orange in homage to the spidery spaceman; more that they learned the value of creating a 'bubble' of image and presentation that fans could fall in love with.

Without this ... we'd be lost. No Sex Pistols, no Prince, no Madonna, no Duran Duran, no Boy George, no Kiss, no Bon Jovi, no 'Bohemian Rhapsody' ... I could go on.

12 Miles Davis
Kind of Blue (1959)

A rare example of revolutionary music that almost everyone liked from the moment they heard it. Its cool, spacey, open-textured approach marked a complete break with the prevalent 'hard bop' style. The effect, based on simple scales, called modes, was fresh, delicate, approachable but surprisingly expressive. Others picked up on it and 'modal jazz' has been part of the language ever since. The album also became the media's favourite source of mood music.

Without this ... no ominous, brooding, atmospheric trumpet behind a million radio plays and TV documentaries.

13 Frank Sinatra
Songs for Swingin' Lovers (1956)

The previous year Sinatra had cut In the Wee Small Hours, a brooding cycle of torch songs that was arguably pop's first concept album. Once again working with arranger Nelson Riddle, he presented its complement; a set of upbeat paeans to romance. Exhilarating performances of standards like 'I've Got You Under My Skin' defined Sinatra's urbane, finger-snapping persona for the rest of his career and pushed the record to number one in the first ever British album chart.

Without this ... the 'singer as song interpreter' wouldn't have been born, karaoke menus would be much diminished.

14 Joni Mitchell
Blue (1971)

Though Carole King's Tapestry was the biggest-selling album of the era, it is Joni Mitchell's Blue that remains the most influential of all the early Seventies outings by confessional singer-songwriters. Joni laid bare her heart in a series of intimate songs about love, betrayal and emotional insecurity. It could have been hell (think James Taylor) but for the penetrating brilliance of the songwriting. Raw, spare and sophisticated, it remains the template for a certain kind of baroque female angst.

Without this ... no Tori Amos or Fiona Apple - and Elvis Costello and Prince have cited her as a prime influence.

15 Brian Eno
Discreet Music (1975)

Brian Eno, it is said, invented ambient music when he was stuck in a hospital bed unable to reach a radio that was playing too quietly, giving him the eureka moment that set the course not only for his post-Roxy Music career as an 'atmosphere'-enhancing producer, but for the future of electronic music.

Without this ... we wouldn't have David Bowie's Low or Heroes, the echoey guitars of U2'S The Edge, and no William Orbit, Orb, Juana Molina. To name but a few.

16 Aretha Franklin
I Never Loved a Man the Way I love You (1967)

'R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me!' Is there a more potent female lyric in pop? Franklin's Atlantic Records debut unleashed her soulful ferociousness upon an unsuspecting public, and both the singer and her album quickly became iconic symbols of black American pride.

Without this ... Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, girl power would not exist, and rudeboys would not spit 'res'pec' through kissed teeth.

17 The Stooges
Raw Power (1973)

Produced by David Bowie, who also helped re-form the band, Raw Power was the Stooges's late swansong, and their most influential album. The Detroit group were already legendary for incendiary live shows and first two albums, but Raw Power, though selling as poorly as its predecessors, was subsequently cited as a prime influence by virtually every group in the British punk scene.

Without this ... no punk, so no Sex Pistols (who covered 'No Fun'); no White Stripes.

18 The Clash
London Calling (1979)

The best record to come out of punk, or punk's death knell? On this double album, The Clash fused their rockabilly roots with their love of reggae, moving away from the choppy snarls of the scene that birthed them. This was the album that legitimised punk - hitherto a stroppy fad - into the rock canon. Its iconic cover, and songs about the Spanish Civil War brought left-wing politics firmly into musical fashion.

Without this ... would the west have come to love reggae, dub and ragga quite so much? We certainly would have no Manic Street Preachers ... or Green Day, or Rancid ... or possibly even Lily Allen.

19 Mary J Blige
What's the 411? (1992)

When the Bronx-born 'Queen of Hip Hop Soul' catapulted her debut on to a legion of approving listeners, she unwittingly defined a new wave of R&B. Before Mary, R&B's roots were still firmly planted in soul and jazz (ie Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan). The emergence of hip hop and this album from Blige and her mentor and producer Sean 'Puffy' Combs (aka P Diddy) gave birth to a new gritty sound, informed by the singer's harrowing past.

Without this ... no R&B/soul divide, which means no TLC, Beyonce, or Ashanti, to name just three.

20 The Byrds
Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968)

At one inspired stroke, Sweetheart vanquished the cultural divide between acid-munching, peace-preaching long hairs and beer-swilling, flag-waving good old boys by creating the enduring hybrid of country-rock. Allying rippling guitars and silky vocal harmonies with a mix of country tradition ('I Am a Pilgrim') and Gram Parsons originals, the record irrevocably altered the perspective of two previously averse streams of Americana. The group even cut their hair to play the Grand Ole Opry.

Without this ... no Hotel California, no Willie Nelson, no Shania Twain.

21 The Spice Girls
Spice (1996)

The music business has been cynically creating and marketing acts since the days of the wax cylinder, but on nothing like the scale of the Spice phenomenon, which was applied to crisps, soft drinks, you name it. Musically, the Spice's Motown-lite was unoriginal, but 'Girl Power', despite being a male invention, touched a nerve and defined a generation of tweenies who took it to heart.

Without this ... five-year-olds would not have become a prime target for pop marketeers. Most of all, there'd be no Posh'n'Becks.

22 Kate Bush
The Hounds of Love (1985)

On Side One our Kate strikes a deal with God, throws her shoes in a lake and poses as a little boy riding a rain machine. Turn over, and she's drowning, exorcising demons and dancing an Irish jig. All this to a soundscape that employs the shiniest synthesised studio toys the Eighties had to offer in the service of one women's unique yet utterly English musical genius. Listen again to the delirious cacophany of 'Running Up That Hill', and it sounds like God struck that deal.

Without this ... Tori Amos would have spawned no earthquakes, Alison Goldfrapp would lack her juiciest cherries and romance would have withered on the vine.

23 Augustus Pablo
King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown (1976)

Jamaica's invention of dub - a stripped-down, echo-laden instrumental remix of a vocal track - was spawned principally on the B-sides of local reggae hits and in the island's competing sound-systems, with technician-engineer King Tubby as its master creator, a man who could 'play' the mixing console. This collection of ethereal melodies by melodica maestro Augustus Pablo distilled the art into album form. It would be years before the West caught up.

Without this ... no DJ remixes, no house, no rave.

24 Youssou N'Dour
Immigres (1984)

The charismatic N'Dour, Senegal's top star, changed the West's perception of African musicians, just as he had revolutionised Senegalese music. Nothing sounded like the fusion on Immigres, with its lopsided rhythms, whooping talking drums and discordant horns, topped by N'Dour's supple, powerful vocals. Immigres also redefined the role of West African griot, addressing migration and African identity.

Without this ... N'Dour wouldn't have met Peter Gabriel, there'd have been no African presence at Live 8. In fact, 'world music' would not exist as a section in Western collections.

25 James Brown
Live at the Apollo (1963)

This remains the live album by which all others are measured, and is still the best delineation of the raw power of primal soul music. It propelled James Brown into the mainstream, and paved the way for a string of propulsive hits like 'Papa's Got a Brand New Bag' (1965) and 'Cold Sweat' (1967). The catalyst for many great soul stylists, from Sly Stone to Otis Redding, it also provided an early lesson in dynamics for the young Michael Jackson.

Without this ... great chunks of hip hop - which has sampled Brown more than almost any other - would be missing.

26 Stevie Wonder
Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

This influenced virtually every modern soul and R&B singer, brimming with timeless classics like 'Isn't She Lovely', 'As' and 'Sir Duke'. The 21-tracker encompassed a vast range of life's issues - emotional, social, spiritual and environmental - all performed with bravado and a lightness of touch. No other R&B artist has sung about the quandaries of human existence with quite the same grace.

Without this ... no Alicia Keys, no John Legend - contemporary R&B would be empty and lifeless.

27 Jimi Hendrix
Are You Experienced (1967)

Looking and playing like a brother from another planet, Hendrix delivered the most dramatic debut in pop history. Marrying blues and psychedelia, dexterity and feedback trickery, it redefined the guitar's sonic possibilities, while beyond the fretboard pyrotechnics burnt a fierce artistic vision - 'Third Stone From the Sun' made Jimi rock's first (and still best travelled) cosmonaut.

Without this ... countless guitarists and cock-rockers might not have been (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lenny Kravitz, even Miles Davis owes him), but most of all, without Experienced, there'd be no Jimi experience.

28 Prince and the Revolution
Purple Rain (1984)

Prince had been plugging away with limited success for several years when the man in tiny pants reinvented himself as a purple-clad movie star. Like Michael Jackson, he felt that the way to gain crossover appeal was to run the musical gamut: in this case, from the minimalist funk of his earlier albums to the volume-at-11 rock of Jimi Hendrix. The title track is a monumental, fist-clenching rock ballad that, perversely, whetted our appetites for far worse examples by Christina Aguilera among others.

Without this ... no Janet Jackson, no Peaches, and certainly no Beck.

29 Pink Floyd
The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

Sounds like it was pretty tough to be in Pink Floyd in the early 1970s. You had all the money you could spend (ker-ching!) but you thought that was vulgar. You didn't get on with your bandmates because they all had superiority complexes. You couldn't enter the recording booth without having an existential crisis. Piper At The Gates of Dawn, their debut with the late Syd Barrett, turned out to be influential in a more positive sense (David Bowie, Blur).

Without this ... there'd be no Thom Yorke solo mumblings, and much less prog rock (if only ...).

30 The Wailers
Catch a Fire (1973)

Alongside The Harder They Come (movie and soundtrack), Catch a Fire changed the perception of reggae from eccentric, lightweight pop to a music of mystery and power. Dressed in a snappy Zippo lighter sleeve, and launched with rock razzmatazz, it delivered a polished, guitar-sweetened version of what Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer had made when white audiences weren't listening. By turns militant, mystic and sexy, it helped make Bob Marley the first Third World superstar.

Without this ... no Aswad or Steel Pulse, no native American or Maori or African reggae bands.

31 The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses (1989)

Until the late Eighties, Manchester was thought to be a forbidding, dour place where the ghost of Ian Curtis still clanked about. The Stone Roses' concatenation of sweet West Coast psychedelia and the lairy, loved-up rave culture was as unforeseeable as it was seismic. Ecstasy pulled the sniffy rock kids away from their Smiths records and into clubland; the result was an album whose woozy words and funky drumming sounded as guileless as it did hedonistic.

Without this ... well, a bit of the Roses remains in the DNA of every British guitar band since.

32 Otis Redding
Otis Blue (1965)

Until Stax Records and Otis Redding arrived, the Southern states were a place you had to leave to make it (unless you were a country singer). Recorded weeks after the death of Redding's idol, Sam Cooke, the album cast Otis as Cooke's successor, an embodiment of young black America with white appeal - alongside Cooke's 'A Change is Gonna Come' was the Stones's 'Satisfaction'. With terrific backings from the MGs and the Markeys horns behind Otis's rasping vocals, it defined 'soul'.

Without this ... no Aretha Franklin singing 'Respect', no Al Green, and no Terence Trent D'Arby.

33 Herbie Hancock
Head Hunters (1973)

It definitively wedded jazz to funk and R&B, and did it with such joyful confidence that it launched a whole new, open-minded approach to the music. Equally important was the use of electronic keyboards, then in their infancy, which vastly expanded the range of available textures. Head Hunters kickstarted the stylistic and ethnic fusions that have enlivened jazz for 30 years.

Without this ... suffice to say, almost everything in the jazz-funk idiom can be traced back to this.

34 Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath (1970)

A mere 30 minutes long, this was none the less the album where heavy metal was first forged. Its ponderous tempos, cod-satanic imagery (bassist Geezer Butler was a Roman Catholic and Dennis Wheatley fan), Tony Iommi's sledgehammer guitar riffs and Ozzy Osbourne's shrieking vocals all went on to define the genre and shaped most arena rock of the Seventies and Eighties.

Without this ... no Spinal Tap, no grunge or Kurt Cobain and, of course, no Osbournes.

35 The Ramones
The Ramones (1976)

'Fun disappeared from music in 1974,' claimed singer Joey Ramone. To restore it took he and his three 'brothers' just one album and 16 tracks, all under three minutes. Brevity was the New York punk rockers' first lesson to the world, along with speed, a distorted guitar thrash and a knowing line in faux-dumb lyrics. In an era of 'progressive' rock pomposity and 12-minute tracks, the Ramones' back-to-basics approach was rousing and confrontational.

Without this ... no fun.

36 The Who
My Generation (1965)

Alongside the equally influential Small Faces, The Who were the quintessential British mod group. Long before they recorded the first rock opera, Tommy, they unleashed a stream of singles that articulated all the youthful pent-up frustration of Sixties London before it started to swing. Their 1965 debut album, My Generation, included the defiant and celebratory 'The Kids Are Alright' and the ultimate mod anthem, 'My Generation', with its infamous line, 'I hope I die before I get old.' Angry aggressive art-school pop with attitude to burn.

Without this ... no Paul Weller, no Blur and, God help us, no Ordinary Boys either.

37 Massive AttackBlue Lines (1991)

Obliterators of rap's boundaries, Massive Attack pioneered the cinematic trip hop movement. After graduating from one of Britain's premier sound systems, the Bristol-based Wild Bunch, Andrew 'Mushroom' Vowles and Grant 'Daddy G' Marshall joined forces with graffiti artist 3D. Massive Attack's debut LP spawned the unforgettable 'Unfinished Sympathy' and remains a modern classic.

Without this ... no Roots Manuva, no Dizzee. In fact, there would be no British urban music scene to speak of.

38 Radiohead
The Bends (1995)

In parallel with Jeff Buckley, Radiohead's Thom Yorke popularised the angst-laden falsetto, a thoughtful opposite to the chest-beating lad-rock personified by Oasis's Liam Gallagher. Sounding girly to a backdrop of churning guitars became a much-copied idea, however, one which eventually coalesced into an entire decade of sound.

Without this ... Coldplay would not exist, nor Keane, nor James Blunt.

39 Michael Jackson
Thriller (1982)

Pure, startling genius from beginning to end, Michael Jackson and producer Quincy Jones seemed hellbent on creating the biggest, most universally appealing pop album ever made. Jones introduced elements of rock into soul and vice versa in such a way that it's now no surprise to hear a pop record that mashes up more marginal genres into a form that will have universal relevance.

Without this ... no megastars such as Justin Timberlake or Madonna, no wide-appeal uber-producers such as Timbaland or Pharrell Williams.

40 Run DMC
Run DMC (1984)

Before them came block-rocking DJ Grandmaster Flash and the Godfather, Afrika Bambaataa, but it was Run DMC who carved the prototype for today's hip hop MCs. Their self-titled debut - the first rap album to go gold - was rough around the edges and catchy as hell. As Rev Run spat, 'Unemployment at a record high/ People coming, people going, people born to die', the way was paved for conscious and political rap.

Without this ... no Public Enemy, Roots and Nas.

41 Chic
Chic (1977)

The Chic Organisation revolutionised disco music in the late Seventies, reclaiming it from the naff Bee Gees and ensuring the pre-eminence of slickly produced party music in the charts for the next three decades. Its main men Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards patented a sound on their 1977 debut that was influential on bands from Duran Duran to Orange Juice. They also created a hit-making formula that mixed dance beats with monster hooks.
Without this ... no Destiny's Child.

42 The Smiths
The Smiths (1984)

Yearning, melodic, jangly, and very northern, The Smiths' first album was quite unlike anything that had gone before. It helped that Morrissey was a one-off and that Johnny Marr had taken all the best riffs from Sixties pop, punk and disco and melded them into his own unique style. But there was something magical about their sound that endless successors have tried to replicate.

Without this ... there'd be no Belle and Sebastian, no Suede, no Oasis, and no Libertines - at the very least.

43 Primal Scream
Screamadelica (1991)

Thanks to producer Andrew Weatherall and some debauched raving, this former fey indie outfit enthusiastically took on dance music's heady rushes. It was a conversion bordering on the Damascene, but one being mirrored in halls of residence, cars, clubs and bedsits all around the nation. Screamadelica brought hedonism crashing into the mainstream.

Without this ... no lad culture - it was no accident that a mag founded in 1994 shared its name with Screamadelica's defining single, 'Loaded'.

44 Talking Heads
Fear of Music (1979)

There's something refreshingly jolly about the modern-life paranoia expressed by chief Talking Head David Byrne on this album that moany old Radiohead could learn from. Opening track 'I Zimbra' splices funk with afrobeat, paving the way for Byrne and Eno's mould-breaking My Life in the Bush of Ghosts album a few years later.

Without this ... Paul Simon's Graceland might never have been made.

45 Fairport Convention
Liege and Lief (1969)

The birth of English folk-rock. Considered an act of heresy by folk purists, this electrified album fragmented the band. No matter, the opening cry of 'Come all you roving minstrels' proved galvanic.

Without this ... no Celtic revivalists like the Pogues and Waterboys or descendants like the Levellers.

46 The Human League
Dare (1981)

Until Dare, synthesisers meant solemnity. Phil Oakey's reinvention of the group as chirpy popsters, complete with two flailing, girl-next-door vocalists, feminised electronica.

Without this ... and Oakey's lop-sided haircut, squads of new romantics and synth-pop acts would have been lost.

47 Nirvana
Nevermind (1991)

You might argue Nirvana's landmark album changed nothing whatsoever. All their best seditious instincts came to nothing, after all. And yet Nevermind still rocks mightily, capturing a moment when the vituperative US underground imposed its agenda on the staid mainstream. Without this ... no Seattle scene, no Britpop, no Pete Doherty.

48 The Strokes
Is This It? (2001)

Five good-looking young men hauled the jangling sound of Television and the Velvet Underground into the new millennium, reinvigorating rock's obsession with having a good time.

Without this ... a fine brood of heirs would not have been spawned: among them, Franz Ferdinand and the Libertines.

49 De La Soul
3 Feet High and Rising (1989)

Ten years after hip hop's arrival, its original joie de vivre had been subsumed by macho braggadocio. Three Feet High made hip hop playful again, with light rhythms, unusual sound samples and its talk of the D.A.I.S.Y. age ('Da Inner Sound Y'all') earning the trio a 'hippy' label.

Without this ... thoughtful hip hop acts like the Jungle Brothers and PM Dawn wouldn't have arrived.

50 LFO
Frequencies (1991)

Acid house was sniffed at as a fad until it started producing 'proper' albums. Frequencies was its first masterpiece. Updating the pristine blueprint of Kraftwerk with house, acid, ambient and hip hop, it made dance music legitimate to album-buyers.

Without this ... no success for Orbital, Underworld, Leftfield, Chemical Brothers or Aphex Twin.

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