So I'm going to have to call you by name. I just got dropped a line that the fine folks that put together AudioScrobbler, being as they might be a bit challenged vis a vis American hiphop musical critical tastes, are looking for some of us in the know, to show up and help them along with their catalog.
In case you haven't heard Last.fm aka AudioScrobbler is the best thing to come along in online music since the CDDB. They basically wrote a plugin for iTunes (and some other players) that tracks your listening habits in realtime and puts them on a profile page at last.fm. Note that .fm is a high level domain so there's no dot com at the end of it. So what a lot of us have been doing is manually writing out what we've been listening to, Last.fm allows you to share playlists. But that's just the half.
Along with cool things you'd expect like affinity profiling and the addition of friends and groups, Last.fm gets licenses of all the music its people listen to and generates realtime streaming webcasts. So you can literally listen to the music I listen to as if you were plugged into my iTunes and listened on scramble. Is that cool or what?
The problem is that apparently they don't have a sufficiently critical mass of discerning hiphop listeners. They're scratching their heads on this. My guess is that they just haven't stepped on the right viral for marketing until this very moment. So since I think Last.fm is very cool, (and they still haven't stopped putting in new features), I'm doing my share.
First of all, you need to check out my Last.fm page. As you can see, I have a rather (ahem) refined taste in music. To take a typical set of artists towards the top of my list gives you a clue (Dub Syndicate, Sade, Soul Caughing, Herbie Hancock, Public Enemy & Paul Schwartz). BTW, Sixoseven is me. I've created about four CDs worth of ambient and dance music. So you can see all the stuff I listen to on the whole as well as what I'm listening to right now. As I write, it's Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man.
Since I'm fairly self-absorbed, I don't listen to other people's music as much as I ought to. Honestly I could use some fresh ideas. Last.fm makes it easy. Anyway, enough plug. Here's the bottom line. Starting with me, let's expand the hiphop vocab of Last.fm. All you do is register (it's free) and play what you play. Make me a friend and we'll follow up.
Who am I calling out? Jimi Izrael of course, Avery Tooley, Byron Crawford, EJ Flavors, Mister JT, Lynn Johnson, Honeysoul. All Y'all. You are the blogosphere's top dogs of hiphop crit and hype. Everybody else too, naturally. One cannot have too many cyber-associates. On this one, I would even accept ex-Crips. Let's spread the meme and crank up the theme. I will be getting feedback on more specifically what kind of feedback Last wants us to feedback.
And because I'm on the subject I will subject myself to the torture of naming the best hiphop song ever. I have a 1/10 chance of hittin' it. So here's the ten.
The Choice is Yours
The World is Yours
Bring the Noise
Flava in Ya Ear
Bring the Pain
Follow The Leader
The World is Yours
There’s always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the
duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of
murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it’s not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired,
never sated, never content with yesterday’s brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the
civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will
keep our nerve, and we will win that victory.”
-President George W. Bush, October 6, 2005
I've read the executive summary and some of the details for the president's release of the National Security Council's strategic definition of Victory in Iraq. It is remarkably free of gobbledygook. More comments as I read.
Then again, some of you are the same people who idolize Suge Knight, so I suppose you already believe that Death Row is supposed to be a place to chill. I wish you ill.
This was something I was about to post to Bomani Jones' website, but I know he doesn't deserve it. It's just that I'm having a hard time reconciling the ignorant influence of the Coaltion of the Damned with intelligent blackfolks.
Now for those of you who don't know, the Coalition of the Damned are those various misfits, commies, sympathizers, idiot conspiracy theorists, paranoids, devils advocates, ne'er do wells and otherwise trifling individuals who have nothing better to do with their political rights in America, than to badmouth police and the justice system. Whenever there's an opportunity to trump up charges of police brutality of systematic injustice, they show up like cockroaches in a bag of grits.
You may recall their outrage at the arrest of Stanley Miller, the car thief who got popped upside the head with an LAPD flashlight. They were out for cops' blood, except that Stanley Miller shed none. They also attached themselves like flies over the body of Devin Brown, the 14 year old car theif who was fatally shot by the LAPD after a car chase at 3am in the morning. They pretend to be lamenting the fate of black men who die violent deaths, but were nowhere to be found around Tommy Edward Scott's funeral. When an ex-drug soldier for a South American cartel held his daughter hostage and shot at police in LA this year, the Coalition made sure that the story was spun against the cops.
The Coalition of the Damned is entirely predictable. The problem is that they stand in the way of common sense and justice. It's not that citizens don't have gripes, its that these citizens have nothing but ill will for the very people and system that is put in place to protect them. But we already know where they're coming from, they're ignorant, apolitical and an embarrassment because they're the idiots who get on the tube as 'representing the community'. Yeah right. The real problem here is how the most egregious of this reactionary nonsense, with a whiff of ideology perverts the judgement of otherwise reputable and solid citizens. And I'm not talking about Snoop Dogg.
I can't say that there is anyone with a reputation worth much, outside of Larry Fishburne, who has shown up on the Crip side of this equation. We're never going to get his side of the story in the blogosphere so there's no use barking up that tree. But we may come to recognize a few notables who deserve a bit more of our righteous wrath. And we should reserve special nuggets of it for those who claim to be protecting all that is black.
What is making me fell ill and feisty are those who partake of the fruits of jackleg literature. I am thinking specifically of those fans of Jawanza Kunjufu, who made a small pile of chips bilking college students out of their hard earned dollars with his lectures on 'The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys'. So I challenge anyone today who portrays themselves as a defender of black communities, as I challenge any who would heed such individuals to take note of which side of this battle they line up on.
Let us recall Chesterton's wisdom:
"In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."
So anyone who defends Tookie on the principle of opposition to the death penalty, I would hope you merely recuse yourself from discussion. If your principle is indeed sound, you would defend the life of the man who tortured your mother. That kind of sheepishness really has no place in the discussion of hard-core gangbangers. Go watch Teletubbies or something, but really - STFU. You don't have a dog in this fight. Understand that we will elbow you aside in our pursuit of rough justice. This kitchen is too hot for you.
There is a persistent thread underlying the Coalition's allies in this fight which is that the Prison Industrial Complex is a place for black men to become model citizens. They make no distinction from the tale of Tookie and the tale of Rubin Carter or Malcolm X or Geronimo Pratt. It's just innocent black man, evil system. No distinctions made. Search for the keywords 'Amerikkka' and 'just us'. For those who believe there is a permanent focus of African American life on jailtime Tookie must indeed be a hero. He's at the top of the pyramid, Death Row. They'll believe that his children's books are the only thing that can spare innocent black boys from a life of... well what is it a life of? Not exactly crime, because all black people are 'criminals' seeing that we all get into that system. We're not really criminals but we end up there anyway because that's what the system does - scours the country for black boys and men to incarcerate, right?. The best we can do is grow up in jail, right?
Ack. Sounds like something out of a bizzarro version of The Green Mile. Tookie Williams, magic Negro. Heal us oh benighted one!
I'm sick of this trope in the lowbrow culture of black America. Stakes is high, and nobody over here is convinced by this baggy-pants logic. So once again I'm taking The Hard Case and letting the devil take the hindmost. Who writes black history? Black history professors, not convicts, nor even bloggers. But let it be known that in two thousand and five, there were some of us who stood up and said that the great Tookie, Grand Wizard of the Crip Clux Clan should be destroyed. On the other side was the Coalition of the Damned, may they rot in the dustbin of black history. The Old School Hard Case goes a little something like this:
Are the people at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean black? If they survived the Middle Passage, would they consider us black? I raise this provocative question in the context of the perennial topic of The Survival of the Black Race. Presuming that this is a difficult and worthwhile outcome, who gets to decide? It sounds like an ignorant question but I think not. The answer, inevitably, is that the successful get to decide.
Every man's death diminishes me, but for Tookie, not much at all. God forgive me but some days I wish he could take his supporters with him.
Bruce Willis is my favorite actor. It's really touch to choose between him and Denzel Washington, but really, it's Bruce well, it's Bruce now that he has chosen to make a movie from Michael Yon's reporing on the Deuce Four. And by the way, I'll have to say that Clint Eastwood is my favorite director. So it goes like this. There's really nothing that can beat 'The Siege' in terms of a blockbuster action film about domestic terrorism, and it came years ahead of its time. Denzel was the man, and Annett Bening was by far one of the most convincing and creepy CIA spooks in film history. Plus, Bruce Willis was in it too. However, when it comes to pure military action and heartrending drama, Tears of the Sun is singular, and there was no better man to portray the squad leader than the mighty Bruce.
Jarhead really bit, and the situation dramedy that was 'Over There' with its sappy ending credits theme was cancelled. So as far as I'm concerned Hollywood has only made one halfway decent movie about the Middle East, and that was Three Kings. We'll see what Syriana has in store, but we really have yet to make one for the GIs.
Like you, I'm sick of doctors, lawyers and cops getting all the drama. Clearly all the employed screenwriters are biting off the lives of their more gainfully employed brothers and sisters. The chatting class can do better. We know, we watched Rome on HBO, and we witnessed the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby. So I say get Paul Haggis or David Frankel or Lasker and Cirilo again and belt out the right story. Of course Yon has to have the final say, and probably gets top billing, but with Willis in it, it's already a hit. I also say that we should get Ray Stevenson, the guy who played Titus Pullo in Rome, to be one of the troops. Anyway, I'm sounding too Hollywood for my own good. Just Don't Screw Up. Get Denzel in it too... If you get Eastwood to direct it, you will have done the impossible and the everlasting.
A brief bit of theory to preface a bit of news: It's not what you know, it's how you're networked (or not). I know that if i wanted a date in Brazil, I'd look first to the people I'm networked with at Orkut. I know that if I wanted to get in touch with marketing people, I'd look first to the people I'm networked with at LinkedIn. If I needed another body in a double date to a punk rock concert, I'd check out my niece's spot at MySpace. You just can't meet people in bars like they do in the movies. Clues are all online. I feel sorry for the clueless.
So I'm fortunate to have more than 1000 pageviews a day here at Cobb, but even more fortunate that I get unsolicited email some of which is not spam. So today a thoughtful individual sent me an article about some heads in Africa that I ought to pay attention to. I published 'Africans Whom Westerners Should Heed' over at the Brotherhood site. And believe me, when I get my national game in order, I'm not even going to forget the international.
As a computer scientist, it has taken me some time to learn things that I imagine my peers in the Arts & Letters have learned some time ago. It hasn't been easy work making sense of social networks - we in the computer industry have built ours from scratch. If I were an attorney, I would have known 30 years ago, even before college that in Los Angeles, the place to be was O'Melveny & Myers. I knew a kid with the right last name. But in the new world of distributed communications, aggregations of power move much quicker than law firm addresses. Not everybody is playing in that world and it is not yet invested with all the power it will acquire. It's growing. But this is how I get in touch, circles of trust, networks of interest, peer groups in public and private online communities. It allows me to be in many places at once, and for those who can master the paradigm, it's a very enabling tool indeed.
Such networks will never fully replace, but they will facilitate and augment meeting people face to face. Oh what a world, what a world!
Gitmo doesn't cut it of course.
I've not been able to locate any of my previous writings on my support and qualifications on the matter of the death penalty, but I do have this brief set of axioms and corrollaries.
People have the right to make life and death decisions.
That is consistent with me being FOR legal abortion, and FOR assisted suicide, and FOR second amendment rights and FOR the raising of armies under civilian control and FOR the death penalty and FOR authorization of police to use deadly force under certain circumstance, and generally FOR a man or woman to spill their seed on the sidewalk if they damned well please.
Perfectly consistent to me.
However, I believe equally strongly two corrollaries from this. One is that people have the right to shirk this responsibility and punt it off to a proxy. That is to say, that if you feel squishy about guns, you can pay taxes to have cops carry the guns. If you feel squishy about torture, you can extradite prisoners to third countries. Everybody is not disciplined to the responsibility of their natural right to make life and death decisions. Some people I wouldn't trust to take care of a three legged dog.
Secondly, if you live by the sword, you damned well better be prepared to die by the sword. In other words, you have to have a warrior code if you're going to be a warrior. Otherwise, you're just a criminal. I'm not a warrior. I'm a writer. There are plenty of days when I feel that I should be a warrior, but that's another story.
Before I get to the core of my argument, I want to take this out onto a religious tangent. I have heard people suggest that Christians cannot take life, that this is a power reserved for God. Clearly it's not. If God didn't want man to have the power to shoot people in the head, he would have given us monkey brains. So far as I know no monkey has ever leveled a shotty at a human being and pulled the trigger. That aside, God has indeed given us the capacity, and thus the responsibility for killing. We can do so, therefore there must be some moral case for us to do so, unless biting the Apple didn't actually give us full moral capacity or maybe God forgot something when He created free will, namely a moral reason for everything we are capable of. Discussion for a later date, those sins which are unredeemable - ie something the Blood of Christ is incapable of washing away.
In the meantime, specifically, it has been suggested that a life sentence without the possibility of parole is more acceptable than a death sentence. I suppose there are some ethics which support that, but both of these punishments fulfill the same role to my way of thinking which is the permanent removal of an individual from society. I'm all for that. In fact I have dreamed up a number of Capital Punishments of that sort. We'll leave most of them for another day, what I'm thinking of right now is Permanent Exile.
Does anybody remember that gay movie 'No Escape' with Ray Liotta? Sure you do. A bunch of sweaty dirty macho men out on a prison island? Well I think that's a perfect solution for those who have some queasiness around lethal injection, electric chairs, firing squads, gas chambers and gallows. Our job? Ferry the miscreats to the prison island and make sure no females ever get there. Then we leave them there to rot, kill each other and/or otherwise create whatever sort of society a desert island full of serial killers, kidnappers, rapists, murderers and terrorists figure out for themselves.
For the record, let's talk about rehabilitation. I would rather move the whole of Palestine into East Texas than rehabilitate American criminals who have been convicted of multiple felonies. Can that be any clearer? Send us your hungry who are willing to work peacibly under the law, we'll send away those who have decided to be violent predators and flaunt the law.
This morning I hear yet another example of how 'the Democrats don't get it'. It's true they don't, but for more subtle reasons than you might imagine. Let's put aside for the moment the fact that Democrats don't have new ideas, there's no really new ideas from Republicans either. The primary difference between the approach of the two parties is that one believes it can evangelize and convert and the other thinks it can re-energize a majority base. The problem that both parties have is that they are anti-modern with respect to the kinds of people they believe their ideas appeal to.
There's a new book out called Rednecks and Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music. Now before you read the excerpt, which party do you think appeals the most to Country & Western music fans? Correct. Now read it and notice the exceptions to what you thought.
s a snapshot of the range of political opinions held by country music artists "during the critical three and a half years between 9/11 and Bush's reinauguration, with only minimal editorial interruption," this entertaining if overlong collection of profiles is clear and effective. Entertainment Weekly writer Willman applies his magazine's breezy, irreverent style to explore the left- or right-wing leanings of his subjects, from heavyweights like the Dixie Chicks, Toby Keith, Steve Earle, Brooks & Dunn, Clint Black and Merle Haggard to newer, minor artists like the Drive-By Truckers. In spite of Willman's success in presenting these artists in depth, the results aren't too surprising: while there certainly is "a good chunk of Democrats" in the industry, "the stereotype that country music has become the house genre of the GOP isn't easily or persuasively disproven." Most fascinating are the moments when Willman gets the artists to let down their guard, such as when Toby Keith talks about his Democratic tendencies, Ricky Skaggs shows his genuine affection for his more leftist friends such as Rodney Crowell, and Travis Tritt discusses his duet with the left-wing rocker John Mellencamp and unintentionally shows that success still trumps politics in Nashville.
The fact of the matter is that it could go either way. There's no reason whatsoever to think that Willie Nelson should be a Republican, but demographically speaking, and that's how we're all speaking, we all tend to believe that Country = Conservative.
What we are not seeing by the Democrats is a fundamental challenge of the power of demographics. It's not because demographics are definitive, but it's because Republicans have mastered the art of the niche. Any evidence that they can gather that there is a demographic niche to be exploited over 'values' which don't actually change very much, they go after it. They have been on a rampage for decades in their efforts to become a majority party, and they have done so over matters of values moreso than ideas. Yet in doing so they have changed the way campaigns have worked.
Do Americans believe that the GOP is smarter than the Donkeys? Probably not. But we tend to believe they have more sense. The point is not for me to make a biased statement, but to illustrate that it's not ideas that are winning the GOP votes. They are not outthinking the Democrats, they are out-defining the Democrats. And by the time the Dems try to sell their ideas, for what they are worth, the defeat has already been conceded. There are huge swaths of America that Democrats won't touch, like Country Music fans and the South, because they have conceded that demographics are destiny. This is the same reason Democrats take 'The Black Vote' for granted.
The last president to look at all Americans as part of America and not of a niche and decided to appeal to all of them at once was Ronald Reagan. And that's why he crushed at the polls. The opponent he crushed the most? Jesse Jackson who was relying on the idea of a 'Rainbow Coalition' an assembly of demographics that would somehow gel into a majority.
The GOP retains the upper hand because, despite their niche attacks, they are still speaking towards the vision of Reagan which is that there will be one standard against which all Americans are judged, which is that of the successful upper middle class standard, the standard towards which so many Americans are aiming. The Democrats on the the other hand are trying to create a great coalition of many multicultural demographics and trying to find each and every reason to defeat the GOP. Where in principle the Democratic stance is anti-conformist and good, in practice it cannot keep from horsetrading with radicals which pollutes its appeal to Americans who honestly look towards upward mobility. Tookie's case is a perfect example. There's no reason whatsoever for any GOP candidate to support Tookie's clemency. It's not what the upscale demographic wants, therefore not what a standard American wants. The Dems have to represent the poor, gangbangers right in their demographic, and they are philosophically bound to stick up for the minority of Oddball-Americans who think Stanley Williams has something to teach our children.
I would hope that both parties stress that theirs are ideas which are so compelling that no matter what your demographic, they will appeal to you. Clearly the GOP is closest to that ideal, but it would be nice if they both tried harder.
All you are ever told in this country about being black is that it is a terrible, terrible thing to be. Now, in order to survive this, you have to really dig down into yourself and re-create yourself, really, according to no image which yet exists in America. You have to impose, in fact - this may sound very strange - you have to decide who you are, and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you
Jay Nordlinger asked Michael Steele of Maryland some pointed questions about race in political campaigns:
Anyway, I asked Mike Steele, "Do you have your chin strap buckled?" He answered, "Oh, I've got mine buckled. The question is, do they have theirs buckled, because they've never run across a Republican like me. I learned the game from them. I've watched them for years. And they'd better be buckled up, because I'm ready to go."
What's harder? Being black or being a black Republican? Neither. I said as much in BYO Blackness.
When I was a junior in college, one of my roommates, Bernard was failing Optics. He took it hard. So my other roommate, Darius, said this isn't hard work. Shoveling asphalt in 100 degree heat is hard work. But let's be clear aobut something here in America. Being black is existentially hard work, until you lick the problem. The answers are out there and some people never find them, just like some people bounce from Yoga to Born Again Christianity to Wicca in search of their spiritual home. I can't say that there's nothing to it. But dammit by the time you grow up, and people are supposed to grow up, you ought to have an answer that works for you that can't be undermined my criticism. Being black is hard work for people who can't decide if Tupac is a role model. Being black is hard work for people who aren't sure whether they are really black or not. But if you're one of those people, you really can't represent blackness can you?
This is why I have a hard time with the argument that it's hard work to be a black X because nobody understands black Xs. So what? A billion Chinese don't understand a word I say, but I don't lose any sleep about it. The world doesn't owe anybody an understanding, or even a hearing. Stand up and say what you have to say. Fight for what you believe in. It ain't hard to be yourself, that is if you have a self. If you don't have a self, well then you don't count anyway - not even to your 'self'.
We in the Old School are not losing any sleep over people who find existence tough. It's tough all over.
Yes Virginia, people still believe all kinds of lies about poor black people. One of them is that their success needs to be institutionally programmed but that's another rant for another time. Today we are simply revisiting more of the mythology surrounding the ordinary catastrophe of a hurricane. One of the myths which is associated with people in general is that, given an extraordinary situation, people panic. People don't panic, they play to their strengths.
One of Cobb's Rues is that people don't have weaknesses, they just overplay their strengths. Given a crisis, legislators legislate, terrorists terrorize, pedants lecture, whiners whine, liar lie, conspiracy theorists connect more unconnected dots. The only thing that changes is the volume. Few people jump out of their routines and do something completely different and they tend to be young anyway. So the question one should have asked in light of the stories of sniping in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is how many sniper incidents do we usually have in New Orleans?
The Captain's Quarters gives us food for thought:
Yesterday's Los Angeles Times reports that another myth of the Katrina hurrican and its aftermath has been exposed. The infamous "snipers on the bridge" incident that supposedly kept relief contractors from rescuing helpless victims turns out to have been a media-fueled urban legend, according to witnesses. The "five or six" snipers taken out by the police department turns out to be two, and one of those was a mentally-handicapped man whose only venture out of his house in years apparently came out of desperation for food:
Is that stunning? Are you shocked? Don't be.
Growing up amongst good hearted people who desparately seek to improve the lives of the less fortunate of us, it came as no surprise when Pops told me that he had no idea whatsoever about the condition of trade and traffic on the Mississippi River. And why should he, or anyone so liberally-minded care about commerce? It's all about what we can do for the poor, isn't it? So questions of economics are outside the realm of thought and recourse when it comes to assessing America's response to the Katrina crisis for him. His mind naturally goes towards the ethical angle. Why can't we do this? When we don't, we are morally suspect and this moral suspicion casts a shadow over those who do recover. It is the victim of the moral lapse that his politics identifies as well as the moral rationale. Fixing the Mississippi River trade before building low cost housing is a moral failing of business according to this logic. Why? Because black people don't work at the docks?
The poor don't work. That's the point. The socially indigent can't figure it out, and nobody (or not enough for liberal tastes) is there to help them. And yet somehow a balance is achieved. It takes a crisis to change the terms of that balance, and in this case it took a hurricane.
Now people who have left New Orleans are finding new lives elsewhere. They have discovered that schools work elsewhere, that people are friendlier elsewhere, that jobs are more plentiful elsewhere. The symbol that New Orleans was a black city is now in jeopardy because so many blackfolks were just barely hanging on there economically. They had lives in New Orleans but it wasn't their own life, it was the life that New Orleans would have them live. The control belonged to the city and the culture and the paths that the town had laid down for them rather than the paths they would themselves design. Now their accents and their cooking and their dress mark them as alien rather than homefolk in their new homes. Wherever they are now, many are not quite home. And so they will return, some with the fire of conviction that New Orleans can be better than it was. I suspect most with a complicated sense of homesickness.
I sit and wonder these months away with updates from my aunt, what it takes to move for those who don't. I move. I can live just about anywhere and I've been a whole lot of places in these United States, but I am the rare exception. What would it take for those in the Bottom of the 9th Ward to gather up the gumption to move to high ground in Metarie? I'm sure class and racial barriers make it harder to move from one part of New Orleans to another than it is to move across the country. But schools and jobs and churches don't move. Emergency services and hospitals and dentists and mechanics don't move. If you want and need these things, you have to go to where they are. Nobody outsources pizza delivery, and if Dominoes doesn't deliver to your neighborhood, maybe , just maybe you are living in a bad neighborhood. Nobody's neighborhood has natural gas nowadays in New Orleans. People can't cook at home and wait for the Red Cross mobile to deliver beans and biscuits. But after a while, the people won't be coming around to help any longer. And neighborhoods will be what they be. Or will the 9th ward just be a 'hood, where nobody is neighborly? Or will it become a ghost town? It depends upon who moves back and why.
New Orleans was not full of snipers. Now the city of 470,000 is down to about 70,000. It's not full at all. Dillard University may not recover. The students are getting over elsewhere. There are a bunch of newbies in the previously black-run kitchens all over town and the food's no good. The cooks are elsewhere. Who will remain gone and who will return will mark the new balance of New Orleans? I think maybe it will go back to the old. I imagine that will depend upon whether people saw life in New Orleans as their strength.
Steve Cooley has a rotten job. I wouldn't want it. He had to write up a large document detailing the reasons why Tookie Williams should be denied clemency. Check out the whole thing, but note what I've italicised in his summary:
In addition to committing the above described crimes, Stanley Williams has left his mark forever on our society by co-founding one of the most vicious, brutal gangs in existence, the Crips. Since Williams co-founded the Crips, Crip gang warfare has been responsible for literally thousands of murders in Los Angeles County alone. This warfare resulted in the murder of many innocent men, women and children. For example in 1994 my office prosecuted Stanley 46 Williams’ son, Stanley “Little Tookie” William, Jr., a “Neighborhood Crip” for shooting a twenty year old girl to death in an alley off of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in a gang retaliation shooting. “Little Tookie” was convicted by a jury of murder. Stanley Williams was sentenced to death in 1981 following his conviction by jury. The appeal process has taken twenty four years to complete. The Los Angeles County Superior Court has set an execution date of December 13, 2005. Governor, I respectfully request that you deny Williams’ petition for clemency. It is time that the penalty imposed so many years ago now be carried out.
Now this revelation is just a real stunning gem. I couldn't invent it. Here's a guy who is supposed to be spared because he writes children's books, but his own son is a convicted murderer.
I'm looking up some of my writings on the death penalty and I ran across this diversity metaphor..
(from the archives, July 1997)
america is, in my new sense, neither a melting pot, nor a salad, but a
grocery section. it takes effort to make a good salad, and depending
on your skill you can make any type of salad you desire - all the
ingredients are there. you can even boil everything down to stock if
you like. but salads are not going to leap into your basket fully
prepared. you've got to make it.
some people come into the store and complain about all the nuts or try
to compare apples to oranges. everybody wants to be top banana, but a
whole lot of people are just vegged out. of course you can make a big
deal out of it or do something. (but you can't rearrange the shelves
or the store owners will have security throw you out). all you can do
is creatively take a selection and make something out of it, or you
can be lazy and take the pre-bagged mixes.
i think we have been obsessed with trying to make the perfect salad
too long. people keep arguing that unless every tomato is usda fancy,
it undermines the idea of salad. but nobody pays attention to the
underpaid labor, sweat, time, care, fertilizer and pesticides that go
into growing any tomato. they just want to make an effortless
May God find you safe and in good health. Peace.
Is there any question that I have a great deal to be thankful for?
Well it turns out that I wasn't so unpopular after all.
Suddenly my blogging has had one of those Claritin moments. What I thought I saw, had only been vaguely perceived. Whereas I thought that I was very influential but surprisingly unpopular, it turns out that I'm way more popular than I thought. About five or six times. Thanks to a cat names James Joyner, I have discovered that I really should be putting some hit counting code in more than one place on the blog. Ya think? Now I can actually count those hits that go anywhere else but the front page. It really does make sense.
I'll have to wait a few weeks to get a solid idea of what kind of traffic I actually get, but I basically doubled what I thought my avarage daily traffic was before lunch today. So even though this is something of a holiday, it's clear that I do more than 1000 hits a day. It's a sigh of relief, I guess. Now I have to seriously think about what opportunities I've been passing up because I thought my duckling was more arcane and ugly than it actually is. Namely PJ Media. (sigh) Mo' hits, mo' problems.
But it's a good problem to have.
Most of us pictured Huey as being a precocious child, but the cartoon has sorta eliminated that. Huey and Riley are definitely children on this show. They're frequently irrational like children are, and they frequently oversimplify issues like children have a tendency to do. Using King for his voice makes him more child-like than anyone of us had given him credit for being, and that sorta changes the dynamic when I read the strip.
Three, I say three episodes into the Boondocks and I'm worried. First of all, I don't think anything is going to be as funny as Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but it took 3 years for the really good stuff to come out. The question is, with all the high-priced talent that Aaron has put into the show, are they ever going to be able to afford to do that many episodes? Doesn't sound like it.
Already I'm thinking maybe that this is going to be redubbed into Japanese and they can make some money over there, not that I want to be represented by these increasingly lame plots. I mean, grandpa falls for a ho? The whole joke is recursive. Didn't the writers know? Did they think we were in love with the Boondocks? I mean you gotta admit that for pure porno sensation, they basically outdid 'Drawn Together' with the nice low angle shots between the legs of Crystal Like the Champagne, but I was watching with the Spousal Unit and couldn't put the Tivo on slowmo... I'll get back with you when I'm sure. Still, that ain't love. Game knows game and I can't see ya. Oh well, at least I can pretend that I'm up on my urban slang.
Yes it's Regina King. The wife noticed that straight off the bat. I have to say that I haven't watched nearly enough of the appropriated black drama to recognize her voice. Witherspoon, yeah. King, no. And I think Huey... well I think he's a bit wimped out. Couldn't they have gotten, I don't know, Lil Bow Wow or some'in? I was expecting a junior version of Damon Wayan's prison philosopher and I'm sorry but the resonance just ain't resonating. That contract needs to be ripped up and a new kid dropped in. Even Little Bill sounds more like Huey than this Huey.
I say the writing is about to gel, but the execution is kinda weak right now. I think that there's a fight going on right now between black comic timing and Anime convention and that's a tension right in the middle of the show. So far the most funny scene has been when the protesters outside the R Kelly courthouse start flying though the air. This is where the series could go - get inside of Huey's head and let the anime off the chain, because the current narrative pace is so...so Speed Racer. Credit due to Witherspoon. He makes Grandad work, and his timing comes through. But the rest of the place needs some depth.
Still, if it ain't Huey's story, then the whole thing is a bust. Grandad can't afford to steal the show. This thing is still a housewife, you got to turn it into a ho.
I'm being sarcastic. The first thing you have to understand about Tookie Williams is that this is what he looked like. Knowing that this man used to hang out at parks and beat down people for fun, that he used to force people to oil his body, gives you some idea what Tookie was all about. The Tookie I knew hung out at Centinela Park in Inglewood with another huge dude named 'Mouse' doing pullups and otherwise being as badass as humanly possible. Basically, he did whatever he wanted to, and in the end what he wanted to do was be the most intimidating and dangerous man anywhere. He got his wish of course. Who was going to stop him?
I got other Tookie and Mouse stories second-hand from a kid named Timmy Green who was a bodybuilding roughneck too. Back in highschool, Tim Green was about five feet tall and 2 feet thick. He was a devastating football player, a little walking muscle. We all suspected that Timmy was a Crip, but nobody said it straight out, after all ours was an exclusive Jesuit prep school. I heard that Tim is dead, shot by another Crip somewhere. We kinda knew that he had a deathwish. Tim owned a red Honda motorcycle, a CB400 with the swivelly pipes. I rode with him once, and I immediately experienced a kind of terror I've never known before. Tim was absolutely fearless riding on the wrong side of the double yellow line of Crenshaw Blvd at 70 miles per hour. But if you talked about Tookie, Tim showed fear. Admiration to be sure. Tookie went everywhere in LA to prove that he was the was the baddest, and nobody lived to win a challenge, but fear too. Tookie was the man that thugs feared. There could only be one reason for that. He was more than buff, he was deadly.
You could not grow up in the 'hood in Los Angeles during the 70s and not know about Tookie or the Crips. It's probably hard to understand if you didn't grow up in a roughneck neighborhood. But street smarts are just that. You are forced to rely on the human instinct for survival, you navigate the degrees of danger and you grow senses that middleclass live has no use for. Tookie today looks like somebody's grandfather but don't be fooled. Back in the day, there were all kinds of gangs, some no more troublesome than the Jets or the Sharks. Truth be told, Tookie got busted right around the time gangs were going off the chain, and his Crips were the reason. The short version of the story is this, Crips were dangerous and they "Don't die, they multiply". There came a time when they became so pervasive and dangerous that anyone not in a gang was vulnerable - and then beyond that to the point at which gangs that didn't bang hard had to get hard. The Crips in the late 70s were basically escalating street rivalries into open warfare. From fists to knives to guns. The Crips created the Bloods because the Brims and the Pirus had to bang together or hang separately. When I was a kid, there used to be a saying: 'Crips are cool, but Piru rule'. By 1980, nothing was cool.
Me personally, I've battled Crips hand to hand. I've dealt with all kinds of knuckleheads, roughnecks and thugs. But everybody knows their limits. I know I am not to be a warrior and I didn't have to go to jail to learn any of that. I didn't have to wait until somebody wrote a rap song about 'dead homies' to know what that was all about. I grew up in the black neighborhood when basically few people had a choice on where they could get real estate. I know what it's like to walk through the Jungle at night, and I know if the man cursing on the bus is actually going to swing at you. But I only know what it's like to live around people who were basically about 1/3 as dangerous as Tookie Williams.
The scariest part of my neighborhood was West Blvd over near Adams. I could go into it, but it was over there wher I learned the meaning of getting 'curbed'. Now if you're dainty, skip to the next paragraph and agree me because I'm about to describe it. Everybody knows about being 'jumped in' and 'jumped out' of a gang. Basically about 7 of them beat you down until you can't stand up. That's child's play. You basically get curbed if you rat to the cops. What does that mean I asked? Well, you lay down in the street perpendicular to the and facing curb. You open your mouth and bite the concrete corner of the curb and somebody comes up behind you and kicks you in the back of the head. People who did this were afraid of Tookie.
I cannot wait until the founder of the Crips dies at the hands of the California justice system. This convict has actually convinced people that if you write some children's books, that you can redeem yourself for a quadruple murder conviction. That doesn't say much for the state of conviction these days. So long as he fries, I can handle it.
It's not surprising that the Coalition of the Damned is up in arms about this clemency drama, and quite frankly I'm not surprised that Jamie Foxx and others have a screw loose in this matter. Clearly, they don't know what Crips are all about. I discussed this sorry SOB here and over at africanamerican.org a month or so ago, and it's amazing the amount of BS excuses go into trying to make the case for clemency. Take this one for example:
Never mind the fact that Blacks make up the majority of the prison population because White cops are 6 times more likely to arrest a Black or Latino than a White offender. And never mind the fact that the police purposely go looking for Black criminal offenders while ignoring White criminal offenders.
Never mind the fact that the police don't do stings on White gangs because they know if it got on the news, it would tarnish the false image that "White people don't do crime". Never mind all of that, that is not important.
What is important is that Blacks are criminal animals, and that's all there is to it.
Nevermind? How about nevermind the Crips. So let's inteject a little sanity. And I'm going to break a rule here and bring back a whole lot more from a site than I usually do because I want people to get a handle on what gang violence is like in LA County. As you read this try to remember that this is just about one particularly notorius set out of hundreds of streetgangs.
Rollin' 60s N-Hood Crip Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners Cap
Sub Sets: All 60s are NHCs, but there are the Avenues and the Overhills that are west of West Blvd. Allie(s): Their allies include Neighborhood Crip sets such as 67 NHC, 55 NHC, and 46 NHC.
Brief History:Their main rival would be the Eight Tray Gangster Crips to the east. This would be the most intense rivalry between any two gangs in all of Los Angeles County. This rivalry goes back to 1979 and was the beginning to Crip infighting. This rivalry is discussed in Monster Kody's book Autobiography of an LA Gang Member and Donald Bakeer's book, Crips. It would be great to see a truce between these 2 sets, because so many other rivalries would come up under it and many lives would possibly be saved. Thus far nearly 400 members of both sets have died in the last 20 years and that does not include the bystanders caught in the cross fire. Also keep in mind that many of the decedents expired as a result of non-gang related circumstances such as car accident, suicide, natural causes and conflicts outside gang membership.
Comments:The Rollin 60s made news headlines when Tiequan Andrew Cox (b. 1966), who had purchased fake cocaine, sought revenge against the dealer when he mistaken a neighbor's house as the drug dealers. He was convicted in 1986 for committing a quadruple murder that occurred in 1984. The victims were the wrong targets and were related to former NFL Rams wide receiver Kermit Alexander. Cox, while on death row stabbed Stanley "Tookie" Williams in 1988. This act is depicted in the 2004 film Redemption starring Jamie Foxx but many suggested that the incident didn't play out as it did on the silver screen.
In 2003 City Attorney filed a gang injunction against the Rollin 60s Crips and they had specified 31 men that were members of the 60s, but some have suggested that the 60s were being unfairly targeted and some mentioned that the injunction included individuals that had not had police contact in several years. Below are some published articles about the injunctions.
Their main Blood rival would be the Van Ness Gangsters (VNG) to the north. Since the 60s attend Crenshaw High School, north of Slauson, they often clash with the VNGs and becasue the VNGs are a smaller gang with less membership, the Rollin 60s have been able to dominate the school population even though the high school is outside their turf.
The Rollin 60s also started a conflict with the School Yard Crips during the 1980s. This is an unusual conflict because gangs often rival with neighboring or adjacent gangs. But the Rollin 60s would show their dominance by hanging out at the World-on-Wheels skating ring on Venice in the neighborhood of the School Yard Crips uncontested many times. Although there were several shootings committed by the School Yard Crips, the Rollin 60s, for the most part maintained their dominance for several years there.
Other rivals would include all Hoovers, especially the 83 Hoover and 74 Hoover and all Gangster Crips that are hooked up with the ETGs, such as the 53 Avalon Gangster Crips and 43 Gangster Crips. The 60s and all the "Owes" were allied during the 1980s but that is not the case today.
Tookie deserves to die. Plain and simple. If he's such a saint, let's hurry him on his way to his everlasting reward.
Extended Tookie Tokens
Malkin has comments from victims families.
Afro-Netizen passes no judgement, but has plenty of comments including one from someone whose relative was shot by Crips.
Bomani Jones gets all squeamish about probabilities.
This has been an emotional month for me, and I think I've finally had the incident that's going to kill Cobb and bear Lucifer Jones. Perhaps it will find fulfillment next month as I volunteer for the Adams Harbor.
Adams Harbor will take place at St. John's Episcopal Church on December 17. There will be about 1000 children who will show up, poor and hungry looking for Santa Claus. I'll be there. At the Peace on Sunday, I went up to shake Larry's hand and he embraced me instead. I asked him how he was doing and he said he was feeling lousy because a crack addict he was expecting didn't show up for the 10 o'clock service. It hit me all at once, thinking about Ted Hayes and people on the ground, and during the announcement when Larry said we were 10 people short for the Adams Harbor, I knew I had to be there.
Not only that, I'm inviting you.
I'm going to bring a bunch of people to the Adams Harbor and I'm going to return on a more regular basis to St. John's. It has really crashed and burned as a parish. The scandalous failure of Lynn Collins has wrecked the place and I cannot allow that to continue. . Why? Because, of every church I have ever attended, St. John's goes the deepest with me. There's a lot of ways to explain that but it doesn't really require an explanation. When I returned to my pew near the front on the left where I always sit, I just had a 'Bad Lieutenant' moment. I broke down and cried like I haven't in years. It was not about anything in particular, it's just that at that moment on my knees in the house of God, I felt that I could. It just occured to me that there is no other place where I am capable of having such humility set upon me. And so I weeped for 15 minutes, coughing and snotting and snuffling like a boy who has seen his dog run over in the street.
I was confirmed into the Episcopalian faith at this parish when I was 16 years old by an archbishop. That's almost 30 years of history for me. I can still remember giggling with my best friend Richard in the Gospel Choir where I was a reluctant alto hoping my voice would break so I could sing tenor. I can remember the processions on Palm Sunday that began down the street on Adams Boulevard. I can remember counting money with the Vestry and making the deposits at Bank of America. I remember winning a 7up popcorn popper at the disco dance contest. I remember the youth group, 'The Images of the Future' with Gwen and Valerie and Kevin and Bea and all the others. Kevin still comes; he lives in Cerritos now. I have to take him to lunch. I have to hug these people.
Most of all I have to engage the my destiny as the KFSC. I said that if I had all the money in my imagination, I would become the Kung Fu Santa Claus. I need to balance the ass-kicking and start distributing largess. I'll start there and then.
I wanted to like this. What a stunningly huge disappointment.
The original was a fun game marred by poor control of fighting. This one seems even worse. The whole thrill of walking through New York is destroyed by and incredibly monotonous stream of repeated invectives. You walk up the sidewalk and all you hear is 'What the hell?' and 'Oh shit!'. I kid you not. They've added rain, big deal. This one is horrible.
BUT. I'm going to keep it for another few days just to see if there are any goodies worth waiting for. The game is still a great idea with a very cool soundtrack. Couldn't they just sell the franchise to the GTA guys? At least that way it will get done right. I'd much rather be the cop than the thug, but I have to tell you - if you compare the two games, it's a whole lot more enjoyable being the thug in San Andreas than the cop in New York City.
The verdict is in, at least among the clan I've been hanging out with. Get the XBox 360. Now that Zero Hour has arrived, I'm going down to the local EBGames and see if I can get this controller to fit in my hands. All my friends are doing it.
Stepping away from the bleeding edge, I'm not in the first wave of the PJ Media. I was invited and considered it for a moment, but man I just must have some kinda real unstated need to stay unadvertised.
Part of the requirements of PJ Media now known as OSM (Open Source Media) was to arrange your site to be amenable to advertising. I kept thinking about those Google Ads and Blogads I see everywhere and I couldn't bring myself to do it. Well, not for the amount of money my site was assessed at being able to net in a year.
I don't have any grudge against the endeavor, although I know at least one dude with a fundamental gripe against the business model, and this guy should know. Still, I think it's a good idea if you think that the purpose of the blogosphere is to compete with the MSM. Me, I'm not all on board with that and I don't necessarily want to be called upon for that particular reason. I wear my clothes a little looser than that.
Ordinarily, I'm an early adopter. But this one, I think I'll let go for now. I wonder if I'll live to regret it.
Much has been made of John Murtha's recent advocation of some kind of pullout of troops from Iraq. I have a couple of gut reactions and a thought.
The first gut reaction came when I saw that he is something like a 16 term congressman. Who the hell gets to be an incumbent for 16 terms? I'm not kidding. Check this out from his website:
He had a long and distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring from the Marine Corps Reserve as a colonel in 1990; and he has been serving the people of the 12th Congressional District since 1974, one of only 131 people in the nation's history to have served more than 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and one of only 224 Members of Congress who have served 30 or more years.
Where's Newt Gingrich when you need him? Now clearly the guy must be loved in rural Western Pennsylvania and nothing short of a cardiac arrest is going to unseat him, but damn! My gut reaction is that you cannot be somebody so anonymous for 30 years unless you are a study in mediocrity. In other words, this outburst is probably the most controversial thing he's ever done in his career, which takes me to my second gut reaction.
It turns out that Murtha advocated a pullout from Mogadishu back in the day. So he's a Marine Colonel and no doubt he 'supports the troops' and is probably operating, given the above, from a non-aggressive standpoint. In other words, there's nothing he sees in this mission worth another soldier dying. That is rightly called a conservative attitude, or hedging. Now I'd say there's a huge difference between being a master at congressional pork wrangling & defense appropriations and being a military strategist. My gut tells me that this is the kind of congressman who'd rather invest in armored troop transports for the GIs than more Blackhawk helos. In other words, this guy is Defense, not Offense.
It is not without a sense of irony that I recognize that somebody who is bent on saving lives rather than expending them in combat wants to abandon Iraqis and leave them defenseless. Anything that is fatiguing and killing our GIs in Iraq is going to rock the world of the Iraqis without us.
Murtha's an old coot who has gotten a bit too plump. Thirty years inside the beltway getting pork for defense spending in Western Pennsylvania does not, a military strategist make. I think he's lost his edge, if he ever had it. Soldiers die. They live to fight and die if necessary, and it's something I think Murtha has forgotten. They do so others who can't defend themselves don't have to. That's their job. I don't buy his patriotic, ex-military cred on this one. Sparing the military the light pain it is suffering in Iraq is ignoble at best.
Hey old soldier, please fade away.
In my random quest to master various parts of the web, I have discovered Joomla, a startlingly beautiful CMS. So I'm putting together a package for my kid's local Scout troop and seeing if I can make a go of this as a side business.
Joomla is massively configurable, an order of magnitude more sophisticated than Drupal. And yet it is so well designed that although it looks daunting at first, it's fairly simple to use. I have gotten lost a few times in Drupal, especially when putting together custom content types, but Joomla presents no such problems.
That said, they have different approaches and seem suitable for different scales and types of applications. This will be my fifth CMS starting with Userland Radio. Post-Nuke that I used over at Cubegeek was the second I learned. MovableType we all know and love. Drupal is very cool and Joomla makes five. I see Joomla as best suited for an organization that makes formal announcements to a large audience. It's not so much a community-driven portal as Drupal in that it gives a great deal more control over what gets pushed out to the site, in what categories and what format.
Here's a link to the sample site for the Troop in progress. Check it out.
Rarely do the actions of any of the officers of local NAACP chapters make national news. The switch from Democrat to Republican of Orlando's Derrick Wallace is a bold and brave move to be applauded.
"I've thought about this for two years," Wallace said Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours after returning from the elections office. "This is not a decision I made yesterday."
It is, however, a decision that rang out like a shot among political circles.
Republican Party leader Lew Oliver described himself as "extraordinarily pleased," while Democratic leader Tim Shea said he was disappointed.
Wallace, a construction-company exec, was candid about the fact that his business life was a big part of his decision to change.
"It's purely a business decision. Ninety percent of those I do business with are Republicans," he said. "Opportunities that have come to my firm have been brought by Republicans."
Wallace is just doing what makes sense, his is a perfectly rational and understandable change. We in the Old School understand that it is not a long walk from our front porch to the front door of the GOP, and we don't have to change our values or priorities to walk in that open door. We merely have to change our attitude. Wallace' example proves that it's not too hard.
McGeehee predicts a 40% chance of Oreo Storm.
As I've tried to follow this story around the 'sphere, I have found almost no mention of Wallace or his branch before. The national NAACP site only gives a PO Box and a phone number - his branch like hundreds of other NAACP branches, has no website. What's clear is that he has been doing business with Republicans for a long time and that nobody (here) knew nor cared. So it raises a particularly interesting set of questions. First, how does one get to be president of an NAACP chapter? Wallace is clearly a big shot, having run for mayor of the city, and he's clearly pro-business having supported two GOP candidates for mayor. When Republicans are mayors of the city, it's incumbent on those who want permanent influence to have an in with the Republicans. What's so crazy about that?
Anyway, there's a host of hateration going around that I'll catalog here when I finish my lunch.
I'm in something of a slump these days but I expect that to turn around in a week or so. I'm trying to get over the fact that while I have created 2 wikis and 4 portals in the past 3 months, I'm getting basically no traffic or traction. In addition to that, nothing seems particularly newsworthy - nothing is getting under my skin. I have been playing Homer Simpson with my family.
In the meantime, I find that I have written some pretty good stuff in the past, and if I ever intend to roll up Cobb and get started with Lucifer Jones, I had better compile it. And so I present to you, The Best of Cobb, a collection in progress.
If you have any nominations. Just let me know. Comics included.
Robert Blake got his ass handed to him today in a civil trial.
Eight months after Robert Blake was acquitted at a criminal trial of murdering his wife, a civil jury decided Friday the tough-guy actor was behind the slaying and ordered him to pay Bonny Lee Bakley's children $30 million.
The jury deliberated eight days before ruling in a 10-2 vote that the former "Baretta" star "intentionally caused the death" of Bakley, who was gunned down in 2001 in the actor's car outside a restaurant where the couple had just dined.
OK, so here's the deal. If you're going to have somebody offed, there has to be a smarter way than asking Hollywood stuntmen, and there has got to be a cheaper way than $30 million. Evidently Blake hasn't gotten around as much as someone worth $30 million should - not that he has it. Anyway, whose life is worth that much? Please. Nobody like loser Blake or his deranged target. If I paid AIG $3,800 a month for 20 years my heirs would only get 10 million when I croak, if their attorneys could extract it.
I suppose he'll be hanging out with OJ and perhaps now Dominick Dunne can get some sleep. Where are all the whitefolks jumping for joy now that 'justice' has been served? Hell, I want $30 million bucks. What dumbass celeberity can I get to kill my mother, and where can I find such an innumerate civil jury? You know I understand that there are lawyers who can construe all this as a good thing, but is it just me or is something radically wrong here? Since when has the death of a celebrity blackmailer become such a lucrative sinecure?
My vote? I say Blake should get medieval on somebody and then find a nice South Pacific island to die on. At least he'd have the peace of mind that the murderous dirt he did a half-assed job of had some measure of completion. Go ahead, kill the kids. Get the full satisfaction of revenge.
Of course he's going to punk out, write a book and go live in the OJ zone. And that's the name of that tune.
I think it's the new Beemer that has effed up my attitude, but I have to say that I'll probably join the ranks of the multitudes of the unwashed who are going to hold off on XBox 360 for a while. I want to play the new Project Gotham as much as anybody. In fact, I'm going to message Black Ricco tonight and find out what's up with the other Oops Clan Gamers that I've been ignoring for months (I hope they let me back in), and see if he's rushing out to get one. Somehow I doubt it. I just emailed Lethalme to see what his attitude is about the new set.
I've been disappointed with the 360 since day one. I'm one of the folks who doesn't think it's a good idea to have a big piece of sculpture in the living room. Me, I'd just like another blackface rack mountable component for the rack. They could have made the faceplate translucent with crazy lights, but no.. they have this cream colored hourglass monstrosity.
I've also got my paws trained for the Duke controller. I have a feeling it's going to be a long time before I cotton up to the new one. I do like the idea that they will be able to map it into PC games so that's a big plus, but I'm not sure that it will overcome the minus of it being made for pint-sized mitts.
So I'm basically half-enthused about this goody, which aint hardly enough to get off the 4 bills to replace my perfectly acceptable XBox. In fact, I just ran through Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory once again for the fun of it, and I'll probably do it again. That's a game.
See I like the idea of HiDef gaming a whole lot, but I'm not going to start doing it until I actually have the HiDef TV, so it's pointless for me to get this console without the new bigscreen, and that's a tall order at this particular moment. So I'm going to chill and listen to the hype and believe it, but I ain't spending the ducats any time soon. Same thing Gamecrapper says.
What's fascinating is that, yeah I'm sure everybody knows that the platform is all that, but nobody's going to get off the bills until Halo 3 comes out, next year probably around the same time as the movie. The release of Halo2 was the biggest event in gaming, well that and Half-Life 2. It's all about the games, guys.
Elizabeth Wright offers an interesting and fairly decent analysis of the choices faced by African Americans in contemporary society.
I think it's worth reading as a critique of both left and right politics vis a vis their efforts to change the destiny of masses of blackfolks. I have a feeling that this kind of even-handed spite appeals to the Ed Browns among us, but the real upshot of her essay is in final agreement with Thomas Sowell's political disincentives.
So, what is it that blacks need to do? They need to come to their senses and extricate themselves from their intense commitment to politics. They need to turn all that energy now spent on building the careers of politicians and other opportunists to the economic development of every predominantly black neighborhood. Their concentrated focus should be on bringing wealth to those neighborhoods and keeping it there. They need to reach back in time, to those "bad, old days" when blacks were forced to cooperate with one another, and take their cues from practical, wise men like Fuller and Gaston and those Chicago realtors. By building wealth, blacks could no longer be the pawns of manipulative leaders, whose only assurance of power comes through maintenance of the status quo.
When I speak of black 'aggregation', this is generally what I mean, and it is heartening for me to hear such an appeal. It warms the cockles of my heart. Unfortunately, poltiical reality suggests that such notions, romantic as they seem may be a long way from practicality, and I think Ms. Wright engages in a bit more wishful thinking.
Even as I attempt to emphasize the roles and responsibilities of the Old School, I am painfully aware of the difficulties of reifying this minority within a minority. Yet it is a reliable strategy because blacks make distinctions between themselves. Any political attempt to get the attention of blacks with no regard to any other aspect of their selves than their racial identity or racial politics is doomed to fail. Just as it has been generally accepted that the monolith of 'the black community' is a myth, Americans are going to have to accept that 'the black political interest' too is a reductive myth.
Since the goal is to win over the black masses from the opposition, whatever works for the Democrats is fair game -- even to the point of handing out ATM cards to hurricane victims. By becoming enthusiastic riders on the "diversity" bandwagon, as well as indulging in an unprecedented form of cronyism, Republicans prove that merit means no more to them than to the people they so vigorously disparage.
It is an improper goal. The only person that cares about the black masses is Jesus. So when are political pundits going to stop acting like black conservatives are supposed to be John the Baptist. We're not voices crying in the wilderness about the coming of a savior for the black masses. We're just calling 'em like we see them.
I'll admit that I talk about the things I think blackfolks like me ought to find appealing about the Republican party, but I'm not even trying to evangelize. That's why I talk about the Old School. It's where I come from, an admitted minority within a minority. But I also scoff at blackfolks on the fence - those who take false pride in calling themselves 'independents' because they are too high an mighty for the compromises of the Democrats and Republicans. Politics is all about negotiation and compromise - it's what makes it interesting, and human. But sitting on the sidelines with haughty highmindedness.. well that's cool if you're a priest, but middle-class citizens really have few higher callings in a democratic republic.
Holy smokes, can it be that the Congress is showing some spine? Have Republicans suddenly remembered that the founders knew what they were talking about when they separated powers? Could it be that political capital only goes as far as Pennsylvania Avenue? Heavens sakes, for a minute it seemed so. But now, the President is fighting back, like a jilted lover. So will we let him stalk us? Time will tell.
A monthly status report on Iraq is hardly worth pissing and moaning over. I'd appreciate it. Even Clinton gave us chalkboard talks on Bosnia. What I wouldn't give for a wartime president who could actually swagger. Well, W tried.
I've just discovered a couple new things about Google which helps clarify stuff that they are doing. It's exciting.
The first item is Google Sitemaps. There's no way I can describe it better that Google does, but it looks like this is the thing that can put all the free webcounters out of business. It's clearly aimed at geeks like me who run websites, and as soon as I get out of my office and configure a bunch of it up, I'll tell you if my enthusiasm is well placed. I suspect that there will be a bunch of side benefits which will include telling me what are the most popular pages in my sites as well as some referring information. But that may be a bit much to expect. If Google has the audacity to do that kind of stuff, we may be in for a real treat. Of course they have more than enough capital and brainwidth to subsume all of the NetGenesis clones out there.
The second thing is Googlebase. I don't see much of what the point is, but it has got some folks thinking a revolution in database tech might be afoot. I'm skeptical, but I'm not betting a huge amount against Google.
I found this as something I wrote last month, and I can't remember the context or whom I was writing to, but as you see the responses, you can guess the questions.
(from the recent archives)
I think the Christian Right will be a permanent feature in the Republican Party because they are so villified right now by the Hollywood Left. I don't believe, however that they are the heart and soul of the party - the very idea that Alabama is the intellectual capitol of the GOP is unthinkable, and if Jeb Bush were president instead of George, nobody would be saying it aloud. Karl Rove and Grover Norquist are much closer to the mark. But if you ask me, the person who best understands the existentials of the current GOP is David Brooks. And if you follow the exchanges between Brooks and Thomas Friedman, I think you'll see the intellectual divide clearly. Having said so, I wonder whose interest is serves to suggest otherwise, vis a vis black participation.
With respect to conserving x or y for the economic development of blackfolk, I am trying to conserve the common sense notion that a radical politics is not part of the equation of economic development. I am trying to point out the fact that there is a black man on the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve and he didn't get there suggesting that there is a separate economic destiny for African Americans. But I am also saying that by definition, there are going to be some class differences between blackfolks that we are going to have to accept and recognize that political priorities are going to differ. I am suggesting very strongly that the politics of social power are very different from the politics of human rights or of civil rights and that people who believe greater power will accrue to blackfolks using the politics of civil rights are gravely mistaken, and that many blackfolks recognize this and are sitting on the sidelines waiting for a new paradigm shift. Some people hope for a second coming of Tupac, I'm saying it's going to be a Tiger Woods of Wall Street, or Michael Steele.
The economic path followed by black Americans will be the American path or it will not be. The mass of blackfolks will do what masses of people do, assimilate or die. There is no separate destiny - what's separate now is as separate as it gets, because in the new information age everybody is communicating.
The utility of 'henchmen' like Armstrong Williams will diminish over time, primarily because it will not be considered unusual for a majority of African Americans to belong to the majority party. What the assimilated future will be is very much predictable, there will be hiphop soundtracks to BMW commercials, just like there are today, a mundane fact considered unthinkable in the 80s. The ghetto will be even more ghetto, because crossover will go beyond black and white to asian and latino and muslim and east european and west african etc. The black republican movement faces a crisis of unity now, but it is a non-crisis because the fight is not among black republicans (who are just happy to be on the right side) but between blacks and black republicans. Again, I emphasize that this is just like the integration of 'predominately white' colleges and universities. It's as if the president of Morehouse said to all non-HBCU grads that they suddenly have no business talking about the future of blackfolks. That's today. Tomorrow it will be a non-issue, another mundane fact of American life. And just like when Kool & the Gang's song 'Celebration' was first played at the Super Bowl halftime show, black naysayers will say that it can't be Real when the Other Man shakes his rump to the Funk. Go 'head and storm off, but the party's over here.
I believe that the relevance of party plank writing committees (and thus the power of ideologues like Schafly) is declining sharply. So the whole funding apparat is going to change radically. Internet tech is going to disintermediate a whole host of power groups in the next decade.
The first two episodes of the Boondocks are about as funny as I could have hoped. The whole palette of McGruder's oevre is in full effect, well 80% full effect because evidently you can say 'nigger' on Adult Swim, but not 'shit'. Ain't that some shit? And so as with Dave Chappelle, we're going to have to wait for the DVD. In the meantime, though I haven't read The Boondocks on the regular in a couple of years, I'm pleased to see that he hasn't missed a step. It all comes rushing back.
McGruder has done some excellent casting in all this. The look and feel is nothing more or less than American Manga. The animation is absolutely perfect. Casting Adam West as the voice of DuBois was beautiful. Granddad is done up just right in voice and tone, a little sweeter than I recall from the 'toon, but nicely done. As for Huey himself, he seems to be a bit out of center. This may have something to do with the way the strip has run since I last saw it, I'm not certain. Still, Riley's about right.
I think that the series is going to have to take Huey and Riley as in the second episode, through a wide variety of adventures. Snark in place is not going to work here, and the opportunity to see them all over is just too tempting to ignore. It's going to have to be Huey's world, and he's going to have to see a lot of it. Doing that will give the series legs.
I find the show a bit to niggafied, which is to say the word is used too much. If he doesn't tone that down, not that I mind salty language but there are limits, McGruder is going to lose my thumbs up pretty soon. If there's a point to be made, it only takes an ep or two, but it's already more signature than it needs to be. There's only so much juice you can get out of that, especially in consideration of the rest of the bleeping. So, something has got to be done about that.
So I'm pleasantly surprised. I'd say that putting Cornel West into an anime brawl with R Kelly supporters is a mark of genius, and funny as all get out. But the perfect touch, (I know you read my blog, boyee) is the toast to the Old School at the end of the first ep. Nice going McGruder.
Now make us laugh again and you can retire in three years to South Africa.
The African American Problem with Democracy has several components, but the abstract is that we don't know what it looks like. Blackfolks have spent half a century chasing the basic rights which enable the pursuit of happiness. What's happiness?
As I continue to pontificate, African American politics is in the limbo between the politics of civil rights and those of social power. Conservatives, (not black conservatives so much) have been trying to tear down the 'Civil Rights Establishment' as part of their battle against the Welfare State. What they haven't done is build up black communities - not that they're supposed to. But in that void, black communities have not been kicked back any graft. So Republicans have done little for black communities because black communities have done little for themselves. Where is the black business network in Detroit? Who knows? Where is the black equivalent of Greektown? My guess is that it doesn't exist. There is no Blacktown. Because there is no Blacktown, there is no identifyable black business community that is known to get patronage from political machines. It simply doesn't show up on the radar of power politics. And instead of a black voter constituency that might be an engine for economic progress, it is a constituency at war with state and local government. There are no black palms to grease because there are no black hands in that game, and that is the whole shame.
This comes as something of a shock and then again, not much. Black populist politics in the post-civil rights era has always had this need to lift more boats than politics was ever designed to lift. So more middle class and successful blacks have bowed out of politics rather than sit around listening to Marxist pontification, and all other kinds of idle talk. What remains are widely shared sentiments around the onerousness of racism (dog vomit), but little else that anything short of the Second Coming will solve.
The irony of a choice for Republicanism is the ire it draws from the same people who reserve none for progressives. There are few progressives who are satisfied by either party, and almost none who engage in partisanship. I see them as not invested, rather like the football widow who sits in the living room during the big game and complains about how stupid football is. And yet, I percieve that Democrats are not hard on Independents at all, with the outstanding exception being the grief recieved by supporters of Ralph Nader. Still, I would call that a manifestation of BDS.
The bottom line is that black Progressives get away with a non-contribution to the democratic process, whereas black Republicans get bashed for participating. I don't want to sound whiney about it, but it is one of those ironies that makes me dismissive of so much criticism I get. Republicans are abused for not fielding black candidates in reputable numbers, but black Republicans *do* win elections. Black progressive ideas appear to be widespread but progressive officeholders? Near nil, if not zero.
I am weighing the price of the exit ticket. While I intend to remain Republican, much in the way that I remain a fan of the BMW automobile, I'm not going to spend a lot of time evangelizing the basic theory. I'm just going to drive the vehicle in the direction I want to go. I've come to regard much of blogospheric partisanship like the flamewars of Microsoft vs Linux. Moreover the extent to which we in the chatting classes focus on politics over which we have marginal influence begins to annoy me. I don't see it as productively focused, but rather a specie of the notion that everyone has opinions and pieholes. More is not necessarily better.
What I don't want is to become like Faye Anderson, not that she is an objectionable person, but one not particular invested in any party. She started doing the black Republican thing and was completely disenchanted. Yet it is where I may end up if I retain my current distance from the partisan machinery. At this end of the political process, I fear not being a part of any solution; that tastes like copout to me.
And so what is the price of being of and on the Right but actually persuing more individual happiness than being part of the Struggle? Time will tell. For the time being, it can be said that I am in the process of selling out to myself. As I do so, I wonder how many folks have done so and where they are today.
I didn't think it could be that bad.
When I first saw the previews for the current film, 'Jarhead', I thought to myself that finally there was going to be a movie that I could enjoy. Watching the one clip with Jamie Foxx thanking God for the Corps, believed that we were going to get some decent entertainment for a change.
I had been warned and still, I trusted my first impression. Marc told me that Blackfive hated it. But did I listen? No. Pops told me, as I was on my way to the theatre that I should see 'Capote' instead. Did I heed that advice?
I swear to God if I see another movie with some idiot kid losing his mind, screaming and crying because he can't take the pressure I think I'll lose my mind, screaming and crying. 'Jarhead' is like a psychological thriller except that the psychology is like highschool psychology and there are no thrills whatsoever. If I ever wanted to convince my side that American soldiers are all paper-thin pansies living on the verge of a nervous breakdown, this would be the film to show them.
As the scenery became more and more shimmery, otherwordly and bizarrely beautiful, the plot fell apart chunk by chunk. There was almost nothing in this film that resembled a mission or military duty, and as the troops wandered the desert on their merry way to self-destruction I was brought to mind of nothing so much as Johnny Hart's Lost Patrol from the Wizard of Id comic.
I walked out.
This is the worst movie I have seen in a long time. It's an insult.
| You scored as Special Ops. Special ops. Your sneaky, tactful, and a loner. You prefer to do your jobs alone, working where you don't come into contact with people. But everyonce in a while you hit it big and are noticed and given fame. Your given the more sensitive problems. You get things done, and do what has to be done.
"VULCAN NECK PINCH!!!"
Which soldier type are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
While Googling Danziger I found his Normblog interview and I realized that I'm probably not fulfilling my chatting class obligations. Nothing so reminds me of this as when I find myself in the company of charming couples who don't actually bleat on about their equity. So there are a dozen questions that nobody actually gets to ask me and so I presume that nobody knows that I care. Well, about the poetry they're probably right. I realize that I am not humble enough to wait my turn to be recognized, so I do my own Normblog interview. Sorry Norm.
Why do you blog? > I'm unable to overcome my compulsion for writing and I actually believe that I can attract Socratic dialog. Plus somebody told me that I can actually turn a phrase.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Periodically, I am able to make sense of two or three previous posts and weave them together in such a way as to confirm my own speculations in light of what has transpired. I think I'm typical in that I really enjoy when I get good comments and somebody sets me straight in a way I can understand and respect.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Talk about what you see, then look for something else to see.
What are your favourite blogs? > Avery Tooley, American Digest, Dan Drezner
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Freeman Dyson, John Boyd, Borges
What are you reading at the moment? > 'Overworld' by Larry Kolb & 'Bonfire of the Humanities', by Hanson et al.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Denzel Washington, Brian Lamb, Wynton Marsalis & Desmond Tutu
What is the best novel you've ever read? > That's a tough one. After some consideration I'd say 'Cryptonomicon' not because of the writing, but because of the way it engrossed me. It's the largest book I simply could not put down, although I could say the same thing about 'Underworld' by DeLillo or Russell Banks' 'Cloudsplitter'.
What is your favourite poem? > My vocabulary in poetry is very slim. I'd have to say there is very little outside of 'Father William' from Alice in Wonderland that I can even recall.
What is your favourite movie? > My kneejerk reaction is Kurosawa's 'Ran' and it has been for years, but I think Julie Tamor's 'Titus' takes the cake. It's very nearly a perfect movie in every way.
What is your favourite song? > This is impossible. I'm going to say there's a three way tossup between Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, John McLaughlin's version of 'Django' and SRV's 'Little Wing'.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Lots. I don't know what that makes me, other than scientific perhaps. But I think the major issue upon which I've changed is the sanctity and centrality of the middle-class, which is to say that I embrace it whereas I had always rejected it.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Perfect is the enemy of good.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Eclecticism and empowerment of the alternative.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > 'The Mind's I' edited by Douglas R. Hofstadter pretty much launched my own intellect in my profession. It gave me a way to think about thinking and consciousness that informs the theoretical boundaries of computing and what created intelligences are capable of imparting to us. It's literally about the thinkable.
Who are your political heroes? > I don't generally think of politics as heroic, or rather I should say that I am not particularly attuned to heroic sacrifices within politics because it seems to be little more than the persistence of simple morality against subtly powerful corruption. However given what I know of Churchill's struggles I'd have to give him the nod. I'd also say that Stephen Biko is also extraordinarily laudable as is Medgar Evers.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Mandate some kind of citizen service more demanding and informative than jury duty - something that illustrates the centrality of the Constitution. Perhaps caring for the victims of extra-constitutional abuse.
What would you do with the UN? > Narrow its charter to nation building, period. Make the UN the transitional authority for the systematic dispossesion of despots. Pick a Least Favored Nation, assemble armies, and go. Make it like the Olympics on an 8 year basis.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The opacity of the several classes above 'American Rich'. The good and bad that they do in the world is too much driven by personalities. The world needs a global middle-class.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > There are much brighter days ahead.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Integrity.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I don't like dainty people. I am particularly perturbed by spoiled dainty people. Spoiled dainty people who complain are begging for a knuckle sandwich. There is nothing so annoying to me as a Mercedes-Benz parked in the handicapped zone.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Gossip.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > This may sound strange, but I've always fantasized about having a castle / underground complex built on top of one of the great mesas in the American Southwest.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Horseback trek across a continent.
What is your most treasured possession? > An old Seiko diver's watch.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Nothing would please me better than to be able to play jazz piano or roadhouse blues guitar.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd become the kung-fu Santa Claus, wandering the earth alternatively kicking ass and bestowing largess.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson and Richard Feynman.
What animal would you most like to be? > A hunting dog with a proper master. It means I would completely understand my purpose, I would remain close to both the best of humanity and of the wild. I could meet the demands the instincts I was bred for and think I was the luckiest creature in all creation. I'd dream of chasing rabbits all during the week, and actually chase them on the weekends.
The third thing that you notice about Marc Danziger is that he's older than he looks and he has probably heard that amusing anecdote you're about to tell before. The second thing you notice is that he's totally unphony and genuinely interested in holding court, and he's good at it.
Last night, court was held at Ocean Seafood, downtown in Chinatown. We expected a couple dozen but became about 10 gradually thinking we might only be five. Among the courtesans as the Moscone-Schmitz Roundtable were Flap and his better half, Dave who remained rather reserved through the evening, Pamela the Kerry Goddess, Rand of Interplanetary Musings, Juliette, my brother Doc, Marc and myself. The guy whose name I forgot set me straight on some Long Tail implications, but he was on my bad ear side and some of his wisdom was garbled in translation.
There was nothing that quite got us rollicking but it was a pleasant kind of disjointedness to the whole affair. I was in desparate need of the distraction since spent all of yesterday on a conference call from hell. And I'm sure I've repeated that enough times so that it's all anyone will remember besides my 'Republican-mobile'. BTW, I wasn't the one who said that it's the door-prize for the black republican club, that was some snarky trackbacker.
The food went from pretty damned good to excellent. My pick was the pan-fried oysters in black bean sauce. The squid in ginger and garlic was the bomb, and Nemo was delicate and crispy at the same time. In the old tradition of Chinese seafood restaurants, our host picked out a fish which was brought to our table in a ziplock bag and displayed proudly. It flopped a bit gasped for breath a couple times while the waiter held it high. Marc stared it down, eyeball to eyeball and proclaimed that it should be sacrificed for our benefit. It came back deeply tanned from the fryer. I didn't get any of the cheeks, and they left most of the head off, but there was some sweet meat near the gills.
As the lazy susan spun our jasmine tea and delicacies, and my head spun a bit after a couple Jim Beams, we loosened up and discussed a million things from strange combinations of food in exotic locales to politics and blogging. (Ya think?). I'm surprised to find that the Dems in our presence tend to believe that Hillary might actually do something. Considering that the Left is out of ideas and really just need somebody popular, she might do. Flap says some guy named Allen might be Giuliani's Veep to satiate the insatiable Christian Right. We mumbled about other causes and effects of Bush Derangement Syndrome, and Pamela reminded us poignantly that the myth of the nuclear family is a myth - so who gets the tax cuts? We mused about the electability of Angelites, who has all of the charisma of Nemo there and the inimitable weiniehood of Grey Davis. Notably Marc reminded us that indeed the Democrats have been spoiled by success and their ability to fight Vietnam over and over again is one note that is beginning to sour all of us. Amen to that.
Danziger is a walking encyclopedia of Cali politics. He's a good guy to have around because he's been around. It turns out that his wife and I have a mutual acquaintance in a Superior Court judge, and that we probably see eye to eye on some matters of technical management. One of these days I'm going to find out if they can cook. In the meantime I'll be trying to read more blogs. I know, I keep promising.
We broke up around 11, and lagged around until they threw us out. All promised to return. I'm in.
I've often wondered as I sit alone in hotel rooms
What brings me to this tired place of wanting
Of Denny's sandwich bags and tiny teeny rubber wombs
Of crumbled cake and dreams of peppered planting
A book of begging bodies paper thin and gently mocking
Arouse a notion to expense an evening dollar dance
Around a sink a rancid stain a randy reload rocking
Announce an ache I never asked inside my dampened pants
Several months ago after reading somebody's poetry somewhere (and eating at Denny's), the notion arose to try some complicated rhythms. This came out in a burble and I thought it was pretty good, but I haven't been able to recapture the mood. It was to be about an encounter with a whore, in a bunch of stanzas. I wanted to capture, Sin City style, some wretched business traveler who travels way way down the wrong path. It has been sitting in draft too long...so here it is.
The announcement was made at 9am this morning. I'll update today with some reactions.
Our 10am meeting was blown off. So we moseyed back over to our outbuilding. The press was all over the place but not many people were outdoors. There was a helicopter overhead and about four camera trucks.
Inside HQ, some guys in the elevator were saying that their meeting was brief and quiet. Seemed like they were putting a brave face on it.
Larry Mantle spoke with an economist dude on Airtalk who said the official number is 1300 jobs + 1500 indirect jobs. Like mine is indirect.
Almost all of the IT contractors are local, our team is 8 folks and we're going to have to fly out to Smyrna on a regular basis now, which may be a problem because we're on a fixed bid. So maybe we'll get some flexibility on that. We'll see.
I feel sorry for a lot of folks. Nissan has a pretty hefty bureacracy out here. Not more or less than any other company this size, but there are a lot of white-collar folks that are going to feel the pinch because they have very specialized jobs.
In IT, maybe we can take advantage of that because we're always doing transformative stuff that goes against the "we've always done it that way" mentality. It's a chance to make some jagged edges smooth. That's my attitude anyway. But this early it's impossible to say what kinds of packages they're offering and what percentage of folks are seriously considering a move (or even if a package is in the offing).
I am watching, for the first time in life, the film 'Patton'. As you might imagine, I find myself falling in love with the guy as portrayed by George C. Scott.
Roughly in the middle of the film, the general visits the rear and passes through the medical tent. He cracks a joke with one injured soldier and pins a medal on the pillow of another who is severly wounded. Finally he finds a man who is uninjured crying his eyes out. Patton slaps him for cowardice and orders him to the front.
This incident nearly wrecked Patton's career and had he been relieved of duty, it is almost certain that the US invasion of Europe would have been significantly different. Patton was our son of a bitch, and through the Ardennes Offensive, produced one of the greatest military victories in history.
In Scott's portrayal of Patton, I sensed a man who understood his limits, and who personified a warrior's code. It was his ability to humble himself and his reverence for the accomplishments of those he led which speak of his greatness to me. There is more on Patton that I'm getting on the Tivo this week and I find myself rather astonished by the various psychological explanations of his behavior and ambition.
What I am confronting in this matter along the lines of what I've been speaking about vis a vis identity politics and the lost history of the Digital Divide is the lack of accountability that colors the perceptions of the public. Somewhere I wrote in this blog that much is probably attributed to War that was merely concurrent. And yet war determines much that non-combattants must live with, for better or worse. How soldiers fight and die is always absolute, but how we explain it, that's forever in flux.
And so it is amazing that an impolitic slap, like a butterfly's wing, might have sent history down another of the infinite forking garden paths. It's the characteristic slap we remember amidst the death of more easily explainable tens of thousands. That is a stunning thing to me.
Parallel to this and aside, I am pleased to be learning a great deal more about my childhood hero, Muhammad Ali. Larry Kolb's book is quite a revelation. It once again proves what the extraordinary individual can do.
I notice that a lot of folks are coming by this week for the comics, especially one I did a while ago on Intelligent Design. Check out all of the comics. (Beware, there's more than 600). The idea for the Cobb Comics is here, that can help you decipher who the characters are...
It's the only one I really care about. However, I'm all for Arnold's initiatives, and I like the fact that he's done what no other insider would do, which is bring the Legislature to account, by doing an end-around to the public. These initiatives, especially 77 are the right kind. The kind that call questions that are against the Legislature's interest to take a real stand on.
I expect the voters of California to punk out and let the governor fail. It's embarrassing.
I'm doing some oddball things these days, having been temporarily overcome by absurdity. This evening, I watched about 10 minutes of Fox News, longer than ever outside of coverage of the Tsunami. Is it just me or does Bill O'Reilly wear entirely too much makeup? Anyway, it's something I never noticed before because I never watched.
so I'm watching O'Reilly banter with John McCain, knowing as I do some rightwinger's propensity to twist him for thinking for himself. And there's a bunch of "but he's a patriot" silliness. Pat Tillman was a hero and a patriot. I agree with you 80%, Senator, you're a patriot. Whatever. But just after the turn of the hour, the top pictures come on over the mess in Paris.
The montage was completely underwhelming. The caption, 'the rioting turns deadly'. What kind of class struggle is this? It takes eleven days for anyone to get killed here? What do the television journalists, who always go for the blood, have as their top picture? A burning bus. Jeez Louise. How pathetic.
I have in mind the story of the difference between Americans and South Americans. In America, if you're a passenger with your best friend who is speeding and he gets busted, you say, yeah he was speeding. In South America, you defend your friend against the cop. Basically in some other cultures, people believes consensus can defy objectivity. We tend to be more reality-based. "Dude, he was going 75 and everybody knows it", is what we'd say. We are resolved to resolution, others think consensus can suspend reality.
It must be that suspension of reality that's going on in the minds of the French government. It's a riot. It might not be a deadly riot, but it's a riot - the biggest they've had since May of 68. But perhaps they believe some consensus that it's something else might prevail. No such occurance could get by here in America. We count bodies and injuries and millions of dollars of damage, and we demand that something be done to restore order, NOW. Picture Ray Nagin screaming. Americans demand action. Cause, Effect. Action, Reaction.
But I imagine that so long as it's just cars that getting burned, the French feel they can dither. For this they will pay. That is, if the rioters are simply anarchic. At some point, perhaps when it becomes more deadly and makes the US headlines for 'objective' reasons, as opposed to merely Fox News, then we'll drink in some more prose and pass more judgement. But I predict that all anybody has to say is 'jihad'. Are we heading towards 1968 again? It feels like it.
Who really cares?
Who's willing to try to save a world
That's destined to die?
-- Marvin Gaye
I just managed to take a hot phone off my ear and sit down to write. In the time that it takes to make sense of the issues buzzing around my head, I will have made up my mind that what I'm writing is worth writing and in due course miss a point.
Basically, this began with a SMS sent to me that said my Digital Divide stuff is full of crap. How much crap, the world will never know, which is something of a shame, yet something to be expected entirely. This is exactly the crux of a set of disagreements between myself and my pal, who cares enough about me to tell me when I'm making an ass of myself in the company of people who know better (but won't say). And so perhaps from that, I will coin a new one for Cobb's Rules. Only passion teaches thoroughly.
It turns out that Y was one of the heads in the old days that did a great deal heavy lifting in support of the universal internet access that we take for granted these days. In her story, some cat named Larry Irving was the head honcho riding herd on CLECs and other forms of clueless capitalists who left to their own devices would redline a host of Americans into internet-less limbo.
The organization deeply embedded in this process was the NTIA, which up until this point was a complete mystery to me and the reason Y says that hole in the ground may very well be my sphincter. I'm not sure which is which. She says that during the early days of internet-dom, people who should have known better had to be dragged kicking and screaming in massive schemes to wire anything other than prime communities. At that time, when I was in NYC, I had been a customer of the top dogs, Panix, the Well. Prior to that I was on Compuserv, Delphi, Prodigy and Lord knows how many other services. What I was familiar with, and certainly Okolo had even more exposure to, was the battles of Panix, a nascent ISP in the days before 'ISP' was a business model capable of getting a loan from the bank, much less stock issue. Alexis Rosen would constantly gripe about the screaming he had to do with the local bandwidth providers so he could connect our community of early internet surfers. Recall that these were the days before the HTTP protocol - the days of WAIS and the Ed Krol book.
When I arrogantly scoff about the so-called 'Digital Divide', I do it from the perspective of one of those people who was absolutely dedicated to putting black content online and ready to dismiss any foot-dragging on the matter from any quarter. In other words, I was an early adopter who had always been trying to push things forward. As such, and as a college-educated, big-city type with disposable income, I have always managed to find a way to get online and networked to where the public networked work was being done. Of course, others are not so privileged, and isn't the temptation always to be looking out for their best interests?
It's the gap between folks like me and folks like Y that make the gap between folks like you and the purported victims of the Digital Divide so interesting. You see, I have come to conclude that once computers were available at Best Buy, circa 1996, that was the beginning of the end of the Digital Divide. And further that between 1991 and 1996, the essential factor of the Digital Divide was demand. In other words, the economic gap between somebody like me and somebody who had been 'divided' shrunk to essentially nothing during that period, however if there was any significant divide it had to do with the percieved value of what was online.
Given that if you lived in the boonies, where according to Y, there were huge geographic barriers to providing dialup service, from the days when PPP first became available and the birth of AOL, there argument is essentially that.
So what was the killer app? What was this thing that the poor, black, uneducated and rurally isolated people needed, and what was keeping them from it? Was it supply or demand? Well, from my perspective as someone who always found a way to get online, it was demand. There was simply nothing so compelling in the online world.
There's an interesting story in here that I should interject which might make this otherwise dull dissection of history more flavorful. I was at a conference at USC, somewhere around the days before HP made Motif commercially available. The legendary Stallman himself was there. I had been out of school at least a year and he was babbling on about 'free software'. The odd thing was that I hadn't been availed to any free software while I was in college myself, and I was completely in the dark about where this stuff would be coming from. Part of this was wholly my ignorance, and so I stood up and asked what I thought to be a fairly provocative question. If free software is supposed to be so valuable to the planet, how come we can't get it at Egghead - not that there are any Egghead software joints in the 'hood. You basically had to be a college student in one of the colleges that actually had a node on the internet such as it was in those days (around 1987). Then, the killer app was USENET, and even while I was a full time employee at Xerox, it was nearly impossible to get access to USENET inside this massive corporation. Bottom line, if there were a quarter of a million Americans in the late 80s that could use GNU stuff, I would have been pretty amazed.
What this has to do with the value of things Internetworked is rather key to this entire discussion of the Digital Divide. As my example showed, it was and is perfectly possible to get a good job, even in the computer industry in America, and still not have access to the coolest stuff which is supposed to drive the value of the internet.
Which brings me to the central question. What was it of value that those traditionally redlined people were missing before the economics (and laws?) of the hardware, software and networked access became available and affordable? The answer is basically raw technology services, because that's all there was. Email and NNTP, to be specific. Those were the killer apps in the early 90s, other than that, everybody had BBS access - that is to say everybody who knew what it was.
But I am going to leave this otherwise thought-provoking issue die a quiet death. In fact, I'm going to crack jokes at its funeral. Why, because nobody cares to correct me, least of all my pal Y, who is quite satisfied to leave such matters to the mists of historical documentation somewhere in the bowels of the NTIA archives, and perhaps someday in Mr. Irving's memoirs. In the meantime, I will count myself among the oblivious millions who might have given a turd about the valiant and selfless acts done on our behalf, but are too busy watching stuff like Joe Cartoon.
Part of the problem with being one of a scientific mind is that you tend to believe that other people do things for logical reasons. A scientist without a mean streak tends to believe the best of people, which means that he equates their passion and conviction with a commensurate amount of logical effort. If I become an evil cur in my age, it will because I will have realized that I haven't done a commensurate amount of effort into studious investigations of human nature. Millions of dipdunks just don't think, and it does nothing to suppress their volume or influence on others of their ilk.
On my thick list of things to do now halfway done is to look at what's up with Syria's Baathists. Since it is now clear that you can inherit power from your dad, and that your government is capable of assassination, perhaps there is something of the same sickness in Syria as there was not too long ago in Iraq. Is the common thread Arab Socialism? Perhaps it is. It merits investigation.
This has to do with my growing disgust with Black Identity politics through the link to Nasser, who can be said to be the father of Arab Socialism. See, like most blackfolks, I have been told that Nasser was a Black Man, and that his anti-colonial struggles were part and parcel of my struggle. It was one more opportunity for the We Love Black People contingent to slip another shiv into us. Or maybe I should take the razor's conclusion that they were just stupid and it wasn't a conspiracy. Sounds fair to me.
Anyway, that's my 12 minutes of due dilligence. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Today, I learned that there is a Java packing utility in the JDK called jar. And I can use jar to create jar files - it has pretty much the same syntax as tar. If you use tar, or zip, you'll never get your application running. Why they created this weird standard is beyond me. Doesn't anyone trust zip?
I also learned that the new version of Websphere is very nice and the interface has all of the bugs worked out that I remember from 2003.
Never underestimate the power of habit embedded in bureacracy. When the problem is glaring, and the solution is obvious, but there's a very good bureacratic reason, people will pay for consultants to stay in Seattle an extra day. I'll never go broke being a consultant.
Sears kicks ass. Two Arrow sweaters for 50 bucks. I was going to go to Target but I said what the hey. I recall that Mr. Lewis was taking over the joint, so why drive all the way of to Redmond when there's a Sears right here in Bellevue? It turns out that I'm digging the new Craftsman fashion work duds. In the home of grunge, I could see this happening. Or not. The point is that there's serious competition to Target, and I'm down with that.
Prime rib at Stuart Andersons is pretty damned good, but much better after two doubles of Jim Beam.
My boy lost his flute. I'm going to strangle him.
'Family Guy' is pretty damned funny.
Axe body spray has the coolest commercials on TV, next to Scion.
Politics is not as rewarding as reading spy novels. Soon come, a review of 'Overworld'.
I deserve a break today. So I went out and bought the car from one of my favorite action flicks. This is my fourth BMW. I decided against the sportier 540, which was actually less. It had flashier rims and the tiptronic transmission, but I don't need a chick magnet at my age. This 740il is plenty roomy in the back for the little Bowens, and the stereo is adequate. Now I have to figure out the GPS and all the other knobs...
I haven't been talking much about my job here. I almost never do, mostly because nobody really much understands nor cares about the bowels of IT. Yet I still hold out hope that Michael Crighton will executive produce a dramatic series about an IT consulting firm. I'm sick of doctors, lawyers and cops. Aren't you?
Well fortunately since I'm somewhat near the top of the game, my customers have recognizable names. Right now I'm at Nissan in Gardena. Since I've noticed that the story has made the news, I can confirm that I'm going to have to
do spend some time in Smyrna, TN where Nissan's current US Manufacturing HQ is. That means that a whole lot of finance and accounting types who could get jobs elsewhere are in something of a panic, and resumes have hit the street.
I haven't made the trip to Smyrna yet, but I hear it's a fairly awesome factory. All of the Nissan & Infiniti cars sold in the US and Canada are built there. Some are shipped to the Middle East and South America too. Those bound for the ME are outfitted slightly differently for heat and dust.
Chances are that the IBM relationship is going to change too. There are a good number of IT contractors here in the outbuildings. My team has just squatted in 8 desks and we've got plenty of work to do, but chances are that we'll be doing more flying than we intended as f2f meetings become impossible here in Gardena.
"John Brown's effort was peculiar. It was not a slave insurrection. It was an attempt by white men to get up a revolt among slaves, in which the slaves refused to participate. In fact, it was so absurd that the slaves, with all their ignorance, saw plainly enough it could not succeed."
-- Abraham Lincoln
I've been reading Lincoln in response to a charge that the Republican Party started off as a bunch of radicals. They were not as far as Lincoln was concerned. But this bit of business about John Brown, a hero of mine, struck me cold. So I'm going to say something for the sake of argument, that I really don't believe and see what happens, and combine it with something else I've been thinking of a way to say. First the other something.
I imagine myself walking into a room of black college students and telling them that I have found a black power amulet. This amulet, I say, is so powerful that it has the effect of instantly changing whitefolks' suspicion to trust and even admiration. If you wear this amulet, you will find that suddenly whitefolks from all over this country will see you in a different light and recognize you for the human being you are. If you wear it, cops will give you a second chance when they pull you over. Job interviews will go better, and all of this is guaranteed. I say this and people shake their heads in disbelief. I tell them that I know it works because it has worked for me.
Now I ask them if I tell them what it is would they wear it? The answer is a resounding yes. I say, are you sure? They say yes. I show them the magic amulet. It is an American Flag lapel pin. They throw me out the window.
There are several variations of that daydream, and the end result isn't always so violent, but it illustrates a point that cannot be overlooked, which is the point of this essay. There is a certain permanent anti-social component of blackness. In some ways it is inherently rebellious and anti-American.
The matter of John Brown brings us to the second point in this argument that I really don't believe. Having written some 'End of My Blackness' essay number 3 some years ago (before this one), the matter was more appropriately the end of my political blackness. Having elevated past the foibles of generic middle-classness, there was a full compliment of 'The Struggle' that I had transcended. And since I was full of black pride, I wondered what I could do to continue my loyal contribution and still write 'Aluta Continua' at the end of all my posts to the web. The answer was pure, unadulterated anti-racist politics.
There is pretty much universal agreement than even given all of the diversity within African America, there is one thing that no self-respecting black man would do, which is to pretend racism doesn't matter. Didn't Cornel West's book prove it? Well, I didn't need convincing, and so I created the Boohab. And since I was intentionally playing with identity as a cyberspace construct, I accepted a postmodern personna, although I would be loathe to call it postmodern drivel. (Mr. Geib never responded to my emails and has long since left cyberspace. You'd think Google would purge their caches.) Bottom line, I became a race man, and did that whole thing for a few years, thus the Boohabian Project, later semi-revived as the Boohabian Slamdance.
On to my bold assertion. The irony of the failure of John Brown's insurrection is one that should be lost on noone, especially given Lincoln's commentary. Brown reminds us that interpretations of black sucess is very narrow and tends to require black leadership - that blackfolks don't believe in objective measures of liberation. If it's not black owned, operated, controlled, and led it can't be right for black people. So if indeed blackness has digressed to the point at which it is no longer existential/cultural liberation and considered the font of all liberation (economic, spiritual and political) then we have a problem. This is the thing I don't want to believe, but perhaps I'm wrong.
If it is the case that young people today are expecting all manner of liberation from blackness, they're in for a rude awakening. They'll take it out on blackfolks too. If they are not capable or willing to accept gifts from the John Browns of the world, aid in their own struggles which are well-meant if dissonant (or foolish), then they will keep returning to the empty home of blackness and fall deeper into the domestic violence of self-hatred.
To accept with grace the benefits and limitations of blackness is to be prepared for all manner of growth. America has all that for its citizens. People offer a hand all the time, there's no good reason to leave them hanging.
I've been too blackified these past two weeks, and now I'm getting ill. The reason is because of my immersion in a shark tank of crude black liberals and wannabe progressives of dubious distinction. My fault for wandering into the cave with my conservative flashlight, like some suburban teen in a horror flick. I'm accustomed to getting dents in the dome, but I'm afraid my old age has given me too much self-respect and now I ain't havin' it.
Yet it is with some bit of surprise that I found myself writing the following bit:
let me suggest that the black man's ability to survive in America depends upon his ability to manage his affairs with dignity in the face of racial prejudice and bigotry. This facility either exists or it doesn't. Joining one party or another has no bearing on the skill. If one develops the skill in earnest, then his facility, like any other, grows sharper with use. I am coming to the point at which my own skill is more exercised by black attacks on my person simply for having joined and defended the Republicans, than by Republicans of any stripe. And it is this facility that is making me weary of you feeble attempts to paint our political ambitions in terms of some subservience to 'the white racist enemy within'.
It is with that that I have crossed the Rubicon and joined the ranks of overexposed black conservatives who speak spitefully of their alienation. It is a condition not to be envied, but edifying nonetheless. Although its liberating qualities have yet to give me peace, I anticipate this soon. Nevertheless, I intend on remaining chilled out. I know who raised me and what I'm supposed to be - I got too much family to heed those threats.
This is very much reminding me of my days of wearing the backwards baseball cap with my email address on it, back in 1993 - before the theory of the Digital Divide was invented. Liberal black professors didn't even realize the sinecure possible pimpin' that angle. So when I recognized their antipathy, I just had to come out and say the Internet was for me and people like me, the rest of yall can take the bus and thus gave up a possibly lucrative gig building websites for black American institutions.
So when the first search engines were finding my stuff on Toni Morrison before Toni Morrison's own stuff (and the SPLC and god know who else), I was off in another direction. Saying I told you so doesn't make me feel good now, I told you so over a decade ago.
And so it is today with the Republican party. I'm doing what I do because that's how I do. Haters are part of the game.
So the identity politics of some black progressives have it in their interests to assert that the normative whiteness of America is not only a fertile breeding ground for white supremacist politics, but that it is a fait accomplit, and that the Republican Party is the party of white hegemonic domination over blackfolks. This thinking is so deeply ingrained that a measured evaluation of the actual policies of the GOP is not even considered reasonable. But most importantly, black conservatives are singularly unqualified to provide that evaluation. Why, because by any number of definitions, we are unsuited to the task of racial meliorization. Speaking for myself, I'm not in it for the sake of 'brokerage politics'. I'm in it because it makes sense to me.
What the black progressives want is a capitulation by whitefolks in the GOP. They want nothing less than a host of apologies and initiatives that will wash America clean of its racist past. The very idea that blacks have to DEAL, is not part of the program. That's why black conservatives (all us Toms) get no play. Because we presumeably don't need the anti-racist mojo of the Left. And to a certain extent it's true - at least I wouldn't mind claiming this to be true of myself. I'm where Ralph Ellison was. Nobody can make me feel less of a man because of my black skin. Nobody. So I walk without fear of inferiority anywhere. Lily white doesn't bend my psyche. So I don't need apologies, nor do I need the apology extraction industry. I don't need white America to be any better than it is for me to succeed.
But I have not lost my facility to be anti-racist. I'm the one who was taking that message to predominantly white areas while others were fertilizing yet unhatched schemes in their pitch-black caves. So it shouldn't come to me as a surprise that I see through their provincial racial prejudices. That doesn't change the fact that it comes as a disappointment. And while I realize that this was the work of a half-dozen or so within an online community of a hundred or so, it's the way I learned this lesson.
As for the rest of black America - those who don't see it my way, what is their fate? I don't know. I don't second-guess blackfolks. It might be appropriate for me to say that I don't care, because I have concluded that African American destiny is bound to America's fate. To the extent that 'black' is not an organization capable of going in another direction, there is nothing to care about. There is no program with which to disagree. There are just self-identified black folks of various political stripes exercising their rights, and sometimes wearing on my nerves. But that's all good because I don't need black America to be any better than it is for me to succeed.
At other such junctures, I would say that it would be about time to write a new version of my "End of My Blackness" essay. Except that my own blackness never ends, it just fails to resonate with whatever prejudicial assessments of blackness predominate at the moment. This is no longer painful. All I need to do to endlessly confound and confuse my critics is to gather them in a room and issue the following two words: Define Black.
I can feel the peacefulness start to creep into my system