Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
plez sez: I decided to blog about this event for a number of reasons. Number one, this is a good news story about Black people doing the right thing at work and in their community. Number two, I know Rodney C. Adkins. He is my fraternity brother (he was quite "instrumental" in my becoming a member of Kappa Alpha Psi back in 1982), he is a fellow Electrical Engineering graduate of Georgia Tech, and he has been a friend and a mentor over the past 25 years.
It gives me great pride to post something positive about a good friend of mine.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
There is this "List of 7 Songs" challenge going around the blogosphere (courtesy of African American Dad by way of DJ Black Adam). I've been thinking about this for the past day or so, and came to the conclusion that there was absolutely no way in God's green Earth that I would be able to accomplish the feat of selecting my top 7 songs without alittle help. So I have decided to CHEAT! Yeah, that's right... if you're not cheating, you're not trying!
I have decided to let my iPod do the heavy lifting and with shuffle mode firmly in place, I have decided to grace my loyal readers with the first 7 tunes that pour into my brain.
- "Hope That We Can Be Together Soon" by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass
This Sound of Philadelphia classic ushered in the sexy, soulful voice of one Teddy Pendergrass.
- "Sometimes It Snows in April" by Prince
I often find myself humming this sombre song; I once witnessed an April snowfall while visiting Colorado Rockies about 10 years ago. This song is from the "Parade" album which served as the soundtrack for Prince's oft-forgotten movie: "Under the Cherry Moon."
- "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" by Michael Jackson
Michael broke onto the scene as a solo artist with his "Off The Wall" LP back in 1979. You gotta dance to this: "you're a vegetable, you're a vegetable, they hate you, you're a vegetable. you're the buffet, you're the buffet, they eat off of you, you're a vegetable"!
- "I'm Stone in Love With You" by The Stylistics
OK... you can see that I'm pretty big on the 70's classics out of Philly! I just love the timbre of Russell Thompkins, Jr.'s falsetto! Just about song that they recorded between 1971 and 1974 was a hit; they only had one more hit after their songwriter (Thom Bell) stopped working with them in 1974.
- "The Star Spangled Banner (Live)" by Jimi Hendrix
I'm not sure where this was recorded and cannot authenticate the amount of drugs that were consumed prior to hitting the stage, but this song ranks up there in the pantheons of pure guitar artistry! Jimi took our national anthem and defined an entire generation (the Love Generation, ya'll) with one performance.
- "I Want You, I Need You" by Bobby Brown
I got this groove on his "Remixes in the Key of B" CD. Undoubtedly, the most talented of the old New Edition (and the new New Edition, as well)... it's a shame that he has continued to deprive us of his immense talent.
- "I Would Die 4 U" by Prince and The Revolution
It's a trip that two songs from different soundtracks by Prince would be on this list (from "Purple Rain"), but if you know me, you know that it would be difficult to go more than 4 or 5 songs without a song by Prince popping up. I love the danceability and the "hidden meaning" of this song (he's singing about Jesus: "I am not a woman, i am not a man, i am something that you'll never understand... and if you're evil, i'll forgive you by and by... i would die 4 u!")
- "Y.M.C.A." by The Village People
This BONUS CUT was added because (1) I love disco music - I was a teenager during the mid-70's, and (2) I was in the youth choir at my church and one of guys who would eventually join The Village People (who's father was the Pastor at the church - First Baptist Church in Elmsford, NY) was the director of our choir. He's the FIRST person I know who had a hit record!
Part two of the challenge was to "tag" 7 other blogs. Once again, I'm not one to follow the rules, so I decided to "tag" the blogs where I have posted comments in the past 7 days. Please take a moment to use the links below to view some excellent blogs:
Charcoal Link by Aulelia
Wandering the Ether
Anali's First Amendment
DJ Black Adam
African American Dad
Georgia Politics Unfiltered
Our Kind of Parenting
Georgia Tech Sports Blog
Nat Turner's Revenge by Chris C.
Diary of a PhD Student by Anthony H.
The Field Negro
The State of...
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Senate Bill 283 passed a key Senate committee a few days after Republican leaders in the House initially gave a lukewarm response to a request by the state NAACP for the General Assembly and Perdue to apologize for slavery.
State Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) said he planned to file a resolution calling for recognition and reconciliation of the state's role in slavery, and he gained the support of Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson (R-Savannah).
"I'm a good team player," Mullis said. "I was prepared to ask for SB 283, but I saw that leadership determined it was unavailable." Mullis said he is scheduled to meet with Williams this week, and looks forward to working with him to see if they can work on proposals that recognize slavery and the Confederacy.
plez sez: My my my... how the worm has turned! Last week, Sen. Mullis was pretty adamant about not tying slavery to his Confederate Month bill. I guess the Senate leadership must have gotten to him about the error of his ways.
I've already stated my opposition to this bill and the addition of a line about slavery isn't going to do much to change my stance. But with the legislative session winding down, I'm pretty sure it won't see the light of day this time around; I guess ole Sonny Perdue will just have issue his perfunctory recognition of Confederate History Month without the law.
Oh yeah... you read that right: the governor will issue a proclamation for Confederate History Month in April just like he's always done! Senate Bill 283 was just going to be the state law in case some wayward governor decided not to do it! Now do you see why I oppose it?
I wonder if someone in the Georgia State Senate read my blog and decided to let this bill die in committee? *smile*
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Who are you?
most people call me plez, i've even been called plezure! those who are linguistically challenged, are afflicted with mild speech impediments, or are hard of hearing will call me anything from pledge to fred to thez to clarence (i never quite understood the last one)!
What are you?
to make things easier on everyone, i just say that i'm black. some say african-american, but i'm not a hyphenated type. i am also a husband, a father, a son, a brother (in more ways than one), an uncle, a lover (not a fighter), a pragmatist, an occassional elitist, a worker, a producer, a rabble rouser, and a hell of an engineer!
What is your primary identity?
i don't know. the times that i can actually look at myself in the mirror, i just see me looking back. but i can't say that i strongly identify politically, religiously, ideologically, or any other -ly that i can think of.
What ethnic, racial, nation-state do you identify with?
i am a black american.
Or do you identify with none at all?
asked and answered.
How did you learn who you are/how to categorize yourself?
i hate to label myself, but will not bat an eye to label someone else! i was shaped and morphed by my environment - in total. and since i've had various environments and influences, and since i was shaped (in part) by all of them, it is very difficult for me to categorize myself. i was born and raised in New York, but have spent the greater part of the last 30 years in the south (Virginia and Georgia). most of my close friends and relatives are black, but i've also had a fair number of white, asian, hispanic (and other) influences in school and work. i was "raised in" the Baptist Church, but of late, i've been more strongly influenced by the spiritual rather than what was manufactured for the Bible.
How does having/maintaining an identity detract/support one being their authentic self?
being a Black American, or i should say, trying to be a successful Black in America, one has to be able to quickly and effortlessly switch between life in the Black community and existence in the mainstream community. i would be the first to say that i've probably lost a great deal of myself while constantly switching between the two. am i the self-loving Black man or the consummate corporate cog? i am realistic enough about myself to know that you cannot be both!
When we confront people as labels or categories, how does that affect our ability to see them for who they are?
unfortunately, we label people to make it easier to deal with them in that environment. until you get to know someone outside of the environment that spawned their label, you will probably never get to know them or see them for who/what they really are. think of interactions with co-workers, your boss, or other students at your school; you only know those people from your interactions in that environment. you will probably see them in a totally different light, if you were to move the interaction to another environment.
Is having a simplistic, hand-me-down identity a form of ’security,’ and a strength or an ‘escape’ from the anxiety of growing into something beyond the flowerbox you were planted in? Or both?
you gain 'security' in being able to quickly label someone; you can quickly place the "proper" barriers around your interaction with them (this is where prejudice comes from). it is the fear of the unknown that keeps us from growing (or venturing) outside of our flowerbox.
Do you ever ask yourself who and what you are, who and what you are supposed to be and whether you are being your truest self?
nope! i'm sure the answer would scare the HELL outta me! *smile*
Krishnamurti says that the drawing of lines, of distinctions in one’s mind has and does create all of the conflict, all of the war on the planet. What say you?
if that was what Krishnamurti really said, then i agree with him/her! think of our Civil War, think of WWI & WWII, think of why we are in Iraq, think of all of the strife in the Middle East and Israel. we all have drawn the proverbial "lines in the sand" about what we think of those other "labels" AND what we will do to them if/when they cross our line.
plez sez: I welcome your responses, as well.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Here's the music flowing out of my iPod into my earhole:
Under Your Spell by Phyllis Hyman (4:35)
Kiss of Life by Sade (4:10)
Running Away by Roy Ayers (6:55)
Love Ballad by George Benson (4:16)
Betcha By Golly, Wow by Phyllis Hyman (6:15)
I Just Had to Hear Your Voice by Oleta Adams (3:38)
Love All the Hurt Away by George Benson & Aretha Franklin (4:10)
Never As Good As The First Time by Sade (3:58)
Living in Confusion by Phyllis Hyman (7:03)
Lover's Holiday Oleta Adams (4:10)
Window of Hope by Oleta Adams (4:23)
Can't We Fall In Love Again by Phyllis Hyman (5:16)
The Day I Stop Loving You by Oleta Adams (5:04)
Is It A Crime by Sade (???)
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Caution: The N-word is used often... and with emphasis!
plez sez: This is a powerful and in-your-face treatise on why no one should ever use the N-word again.
Excerpts of the AJC article follows:
A bill that would permanently establish April as Confederate History and Heritage Month in Georgia sailed through a Senate committee Thursday without any opposition.
Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), the sponsor of Senate Bill 283, told the Senate Rules Committee that the proposal would help promote tourism in the state and preserve an important part of the state's and the nation's history.
"I'm not doing this for controversial reasons, but to commemorate a struggle that happened," said Mullis, whose North Georgia hometown was the site of a major Civil War battle in 1863.
The proposal has offended some civil rights leaders, who last week asked the Legislature and Gov. Sonny Perdue to offer a symbolic apology for the state's role in slavery. The Rev. Francys Johnson, the NAACP's Southeast region director, said the organization is "vehemently opposed" to Mullis' bill and finds it hypocritical.
"At the same time that the proponents of this bill want to deny any responsibility for state sanctioned and sponsored slavery from 1755 to the end of the Civil War, they still feel the responsibility to honor the treasonous conduct of the Confederacy. It doesn't seem like you can have it both ways.
"You can't honor the past and not take responsibility for it."
Mullis said he has been working on the bill for several months, long before lawmakers and civil rights groups asked for the apology.
Senate Bill 283, if approved by the Senate and the House, would encourage Georgians each April to honor the Confederacy, its history, soldiers and the people who "contributed to the cause of Southern Independence."
The bill also encourages the Georgia Civil War Commission to develop a curriculum to teach Georgia's Confederate history in elementary and high schools, as well as colleges and universities.
Reginald Bohannon, 46, of College Park said that he has no problem with a curriculum that teaches state Confederate history in schools as long as the lessons include both the good and bad parts of history.
"Yes, teach how Georgia had the second-most Civil War sites," Bohannon said. "But also teach that Georgia was on the wrong side of black people's freedom. Teach how some Georgians were Christians, yet condoned lynching, murder and Jim Crow."
The next step for the bill is for the Senate Rules Committee to decide if and when the proposal should come up for a vote by the full Senate.
Click here to view Senate Bill 283 which would establish the month of April as Confederate History and Heritage Month.
plez sez: Here we go again, first it was the Confederate Battle Emblem on the Georgia State flag and now it's this. It appears that my slack-jawed-tobacco-chewing-Confederate-flag-waving-trailer-trash-loving-treasonous-miscreant neighbors, also known as the inbred occupants of the Georgia State Senate, have taken it upon themselves to leave their indelible stain on the fabric of Georgian history.
Despite the fact that the formation of the Confederate States of America was an act of treason against the United States of America, despite the fact that the Civil War was bitterly fought to preserve the institution of slavery (in spite of their ceaseless drivel about taxes and states' rights), and despite the fact that Confederate President Jefferson Davis was a cross dressing fairy (look it up, when the Union army caught up with him, he was captured wearing a dress and patent leather pumps!)... the mindset of those in the Georgia State Senate who support this measure is the same mindset of those who - 146 years ago - split and plunged this country into Civil War.
Personally, I'm having trouble understanding why ANYONE would find any honor in glorifying an ancestry that wrought such misery, hate, bigotry, war, the KKK, and treason! And to think that these cretins want the public schools to incorporate Confederate History into their curriculum; I'm sure their version of history is in stark contrast to what I happen to know is true (there were no happy Negros shufflin' and grinnin' in the watermelon patch). The scars and cancerous lesions of the Confederacy continue to plague and badger the Black community to this day, yet these same people scour in disbelief when the NAACP asks for a token apology for slavery!
I'm not big on apologies, especially from people who had absolutely nothing to do with the "Peculiar Institution," but by the same token, I don't feel that they can have it both ways: honoring their past while dishonoring mine!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The following is the March 11th Washington Post article titled "Battling Against 'Stigma' of Play-In":
Hampton made two NCAA tournament appearances during Jeff Granger's college basketball career, both losses, but the experiences were very different.
The first was in 2002, when, as a redshirt, Granger watched the No. 15 seed Pirates lose to No. 2 seed Connecticut in the first round at a sold-out Verizon Center. The other was last year, before fewer than 8,000 fans in Dayton, when Hampton was assigned to play Monmouth in the "opening round" for the right to get into the bracket of 64.
"I know what being in the tournament is," Granger said. The opening-round game "was kind of, sort of, that experience. But it wasn't."
The NCAA tournament's opening-round game, which was added in 2001 and is commonly known as the play-in game, still faces the perception that it is not truly a part of the tournament. It is an issue of particular interest for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), whose teams have been relegated to the Tuesday night game most often. If the NCAA selection committee keeps with its current pattern when the field of 65 is announced today, it would mark the sixth straight season that the champion of the Southwest Athletic Conference or the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the two leagues that comprise Division I's historically black colleges, will be sent to the play-in game.
"[It's] a backdoor way into the tournament," Hampton President William R. Harvey said.
The play-in game was created as a compromise to preserve the number of at-large bids in the NCAA tournament after the creation of the Mountain West Conference increased the number of automatic bids from 33 to 34. Held in Dayton, Ohio, it pits two of the least competitive teams in the field for the right to be a No. 16 seed and face a No. 1 seed in the traditional field of 64. It is the only game in the tournament that is not a part of the television deal between CBS and the NCAA.
"Dayton has hosted that game in fine fashion and the NCAA has done everything possible to treat the game as a tournament game," said Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson, a former member of the NCAA selection committee. "But there is a stigma attached to the two conferences that are playing in that game."
Since its creation, three representatives from the SWAC and two from the MEAC have been sent to the game. The Big South, with two appearances, is the only other league in the country that has sent a team more than once.
The trend is alarming to some affiliated with the two conferences, especially coaches such as Florida A&M's Mike Gillespie, who said that the majority of their teams face unique challenges that make it difficult to compare their competitive résumés to those of other schools.
"I feel the MEAC is every bit as good as the Southland, the Northeast," said Gillespie, who led Florida A&M to the tournament in 2004. "Our top five teams are every bit as good. Why do we have to be singled out each and every year?"
First-year Hampton coach Kevin Nickelberry called the opening round a "pseudo conference tournament game," one that a conference champion shouldn't have to play.
"I dare anybody to say that the experience of a kid in a HBCU is any less important than anybody else's," Nickelberry said. "They got up at 5 o'clock in the morning, they lifted weights, they did everything else that they do at Auburn, Maryland and Ohio State. Their experience is being compromised, and you're basically saying it doesn't matter."
The situation also creates a quandary for members of the NCAA tournament selection committee, which five years ago created a subcommittee asked specifically to handle seeding for the tournament's bottom rung in hopes of combating what Benson called the "stereotyping" of seeds.
But since the game has been created, the SWAC and MEAC have ranked at or near the bottom of the country in the Ratings Percentage Index formula, one of the tools used by the committee to slot teams. The conferences also have had some strange postseason luck. Last season's MEAC tournament provides the perfect example: Delaware State won the regular season title but Hampton earned the NCAA berth through winning the conference tournament.
"When it's like that, what are you going to do?" said Jack Kvancz, George Washington's athletic director, who is a former member of the selection committee.
Jerry Palm, a national expert on the RPI formula used by the committee, said the simplest way to avoid the play-in game is to earn a higher rating by winning more games. "Those teams are down there [in rankings] because they can't beat anybody," said Palm, who operates the Web site http://www.collegerpi.com. "I think that those teams are genuinely not-so-good."
But Gillespie and Nickelberry said the problem is much more complex.
HBCUs typically schedule what are known as "guaranteed money" games against elite programs, which are capable of delivering the largest payouts. At Florida A&M, Gillespie said, a typical slate of between seven or nine guaranteed money games generates nearly $275,000 annually, money the school's athletic program depends on for survival. For smaller schools, these games are played on the road and are often guaranteed losses, which have devastating effects on a team's RPI.
"To get beat by 30 points doesn't create confidence for a team and doesn't raise your RPI," said Nickelberry, whose Pirates are one of the few black college teams that don't have to play money games.
While accepting money for a mismatch deal is common among the nation's smaller conferences, HBCUs play the most -- which Gillespie said distorts team records. This season, the MEAC's 11 teams averaged four games against schools from the six major conferences this season, the most in the country, and went 0-45 in those games. The SWAC averaged just over three games against the majors, finishing 1-33.
Palm said some smaller schools and conferences that have managed to increase their RPIs have done so by playing lower ranked mid-majors that are more likely to enter home-and-home scheduling agreements. Though the payouts aren't as large, the competition gap isn't as large. But, Nickelberry said, most schools in the historically black conferences can't afford to do away with money games.
"If you play that many guaranteed games, it's not possible, based on the equation, to copy what other people have done," Nickelberry said. "You can't do it."
While MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas maintains the play-in game will remain part of the tournament, he knows first-hand what a better seed can mean for a program. He was the athletic director at Hampton when the 15th-seeded Pirates beat No. 2 seed Iowa State, 58-57, in 2001 in one of one of the greatest upsets in the history of the NCAA tournament. Another MEAC school was behind another stunning upset in 1997, when No. 15 seeded Coppin State beat No. 2 South Carolina, 78-65.
"It's kind of ironic when two upsets in recent years have been from the HBCUs," Nickelberry said.
The thought of joining those ranks is one of the reasons that Nickelberry said he left his spot as an assistant on Oliver Purnell's staff at Clemson to take the job at Hampton, which with an endowment of more than $220 million can avoid the pitfalls of other HBCUs.
"But what about the teams that can't do it?" Nickelberry said.
The following is an excerpt from today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution article titled 'Selection boss deflects slap at play-in game':
Niagara, which won Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament, said it felt "disrespected" because it was put into the first-round game with Florida A&M (an HBCU which won the MEAC Conference Championship) Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio.
Niagara (22-11), which started the season 1-6 because it had suspended several players, felt it should not be in the Tuesday night game because there were other teams in the tournament with lower rankings than its 134 in the RPI.
"I think it was shocking," coach Joe Mihalich told the Associated Press. "I think everybody was shocked and maybe some people were insulted by it. But that's good. That's fine with us."
Walters dismissed the suggestion that asking teams to play in Tuesday's game cheapens their NCAA experience.
"There are 260 teams that would love to be playing in the opening round game tomorrow night," Walters said in a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon.
The tournament field expanded from 64 to 65 teams in 2001 because the number of conferences that received automatic bids grew to 31. The larger conferences wanted maintain the 34 at-large bids that had previously existed so the play-in, or opening round, game between two of the lower seeds was created. It is not always reserved for the two lowest seeds in the tournament.
Walters conceded that there has been sensitivity not to put two representatives of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (MEAC, SWAC) into the opening round game. With Florida A&M, in Tuesday's game this marks the sixth straight season that a team from one of those two conferences has been in the Tuesday game.
"There were about 40 teams with 20 wins that didn't even get in the tournament," Walters said. "Nobody was out to punish anybody. I don't understand why there is concern about Niagara playing in the opening round game. It's an honor to play."
plez sez: I have a strong bias about this issue because my alma mater is a member of the ACC (GO JACKETS!) which has 6 teams in the NCAA Championship Tournament.
I am glad that the field of teams was expanded to accommodate more conference champions, because without it, probably only one HBCU would have the opportunity to participate, instead of the two that we have now (Florida A&M and Jackson State). Admittedly, these schools are much smaller than most Division I schools, have much smaller athletic budgets, and attract basketball players who by-and-large are not recruited to the much larger programs.
Over the past week, I took the opportunity to watch some of the games in the MEAC and SWAC Tournaments. The level of competition was several rungs below that of a mid-major; I saw very few starters who could even walk-on at an ACC, SEC, or Big 12 university. To be honest, it is refreshing to read that the selection committee is sensitive to limiting the play-in game to only one HCBU, because in reality, both of them should probably be playing tonight!
I am going to keep it real, though, I'll be rooting for Florida A&M tonight (GO RATTLERS!), if I can find the game on TV!
Monday, March 12, 2007
When Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Melba Marsh asked Ricky Lackey during sentencing Friday on a charge of attempted theft how many children he had, the 25-year-old said, “None, but I have six on the way.”
A stunned Marsh tried to clarify. “Are you marrying a woman with six children?” she asked.
“No, I be concubining,” he said. A concubine is a woman who cohabitates with a man to whom she is not married.
Prosecutors said Lackey is expectant father of six children with six different women. The women all are expected to deliver between August and October.
Lackey’s lawyer, Stephen Wenke, stopped his client from saying more.
Lackey, a music producer who told Marsh he was on the cusp of a $2 million deal that would net him $300,000 upfront, was convicted Friday on a reduced charge of attempted theft.
Prosecutors say the Avondale man defrauded U.S. Bank out of $3,975 by depositing empty envelopes into ATM machines, claiming they contained cash, and depositing bad checks. Once the accounts were falsely inflated, Lackey withdrew all the money before the bank could detect the fraud.
Lackey has repaid the money, according to court records.
Marsh ordered no other sentence since restitution had been paid.
plez sez: I'm afraid that I don't even want to know the particulars, but this has definitely been filed under "Trifling"!