Friday, March 31, 2006

plezCast #0001 - Top 14 Threads for March 27, 2006

I'm going to kick off my first podcast with my Top 14 Threads for the week:

Click for plezCast #0001

Sample of "Crazy In Love" by Beyonce

plezCast is powered by Create your own podcast at

Girl Sues School Over Confederate Chic(k) Wear

The family of a high school sophomore has filed a suit seeking to force school officials to allow the girl to wear clothing with Confederate flag images.

And the Southern Chicks t-shirt is "honoring" which dead soldier?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

US Rep. Cynthia McKinney Hits Capitol Officer

I didn't really want to post this, because Cynthia McKinney is the Congresswoman for my district, she's always such an embarrassment, and I didn't want to bring any more attention to our situation... well, here goes: Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia struck a Capitol Hill police officer Wednesday morning after the officer, not recognizing her as a member of Congress, tried to stop her from stepping around a security checkpoint.

Unfortunately, I have to side with my Congresswoman because who doesn't know this nappy-headed loudmouth from Georgia?!? I hope she doesn't get in too much trouble because I can't believe that the security detail around the Capitol wouldn't know ALL of the Black Caucus Members, especially one as colorful as Ms. McKinney!

March 31, 2006 - BLOG UPDATE:
Rep. McKinney faces charges after security incident.

As my neighbor and DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson said so eloquently:
"For years, it's the people of the 4th District who have suffered and been shortchanged because of our representative's behavior in Congress. It's why she is ineffective in Congress."

Lawd have mercy, they gonna throw my girl in the slammer!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Don't Be A Snitch

It's funny how some words come in and out of "style." Back when I was a kid - a long time ago in a place far, far away - you weren't supposed to tell on your friends if they did something they had no business doing. You were called a "snitch" if you did, and no one wanted anything to do with a snitch!

Fast forward to 2005 and the word "snitch" has re-gained acceptance in the urban venacular. I had to stop and read the article "Anti-snitch campaign riles police, prosecutors" in this morning's USA Today. Apparently, some industrious soul has gone to the "trouble" of creating a Stop Snitching T-shirt enterprise as a protest against police informants (and other would-be snitchers)! Actually, it's a pretty sharp looking shirt with the words "stop snitching" emblazoned on a large bright red octagon (sorry... it's shaped like a stop sign). It would be nicer without the abhorrent message it conveys.

The article cites the recent case of Busta Rhymes and how he has refused to cooperate with the police who are investigating the murder of his bodyguard. It appears that upwards of 50 people were around when the shooting happened, but no one has come forward with information for the police (like what happened with Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, and Jam Master Jay.

Hmmm, would helping the police find the people who killed a close friend or associate classify you as a snitch? Seems kinda silly if you don't snitch. Right?

Subject to the Same Prejudice?

A UCLA study finds that African Americans and Caucasians viewing African American faces display extremely similar changes in the activity of brain structures that respond to emotional events, a UCLA study finds.

Go figure. We watch the same newscasts every night. Is it any surprise that when we think of the boogey man, we see the same thing?

Are you surprised?

Immigration Flap, Tongue Wag, and Flag Flap

Get a load of this post from Michelle Malkin. I'm not a big fan of her rhetoric, but images such as this give me pause... and then makes my blood boil!

The noise generated by the Immigration/Anti-Immigration factions has really given me a headache this week. I don't know who I'm "for" or who I'm "against." We've got bills battling it out in Congress and in State Legislatures around the country. What it ultimately means? I don't know.

I do know that there are a lot of people who are in this country illegally. They may do some of the jobs that a lot of Americans do not want to do, but they are also taking away jobs from someone; if they were not here, someone would get paid to do their jobs. They are also a strain on our society using crucial and scarce public resources without paying their fare share of taxes (I don't know how you send an illegal immigrant a W-2 Form).

But hey, we're a big country... no, we're a big rich country with boundless opportunities for all. But I have to draw the line when a group (that is here illegally) feels that they have the right to disrespect this country and feel that they are entitled to all the rights and privileges of Americans. I have a feeling if we were to begin documenting these workers, and started sending back the criminals, and built a long ass fence along our southern frontier so that only legitimate immigrants could get through, that our economy would keep rolling along. We may have to pay a little more in labor costs, but I'm sure we could find some able-bodied out of work Americans to fill the gaps.

After seeing the American flag disrespected like that, it appears to be a case of biting the hand that feeds you. I would suggest that the supporters of the illegals should be a tad more humble while waiting to see if we're going to send all their asses back to Mexico!

Monday, March 27, 2006

In Rotation – Monday’s Groove (Part II)

Today is much less than a “Manic Monday” (which incidentally was written by Prince for the Bangles back in 1986), but I just decided to throw on the headphones and let my iPod take me to another place for a few hours. It's Monday afternoon, so I must be listening to my "Long Version" Playlist to hear songs that are at least 6 minutes long (usually with a funkier beat and stuff you’ll never hear on the radio).

I have my post-lunch drink of crushed ice and water with a few lemon slices. Here's the music flowing out of my iPod into my earhole:

Eye To Eye by Chaka Khan (9 minutes extended remix from Life Is A Dance Project)
Click for a sample of Eye To Eye
Clouds by Chaka Khan (7.5 minutes extended remix from Life Is A Dance Project)
Let’s Pretend We’re Married by Prince (7.5 minutes)
Any Time, Any Place by Janet Jackson (7 minutes)
Cold Sweat by James Brown (7.5 minutes with extended solo by Maceo Parker)
Do Me Baby by Prince (7.75 minutes of the ultimate slow jam)
Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You) by Stevie Wonder (8 minutes)
That’s The Way Love Is by Bobby Brown (7.5 minutes from Remixes in the Key of B)
Click for a sample of That's The Way Love Is
Superstar/Until You Come Back to Me by Luther Vandross (9.5 minutes)
Condition of the Heart by Prince (6.75 minutes)

Stone Jam by Slave (6.75 minutes)
Friend (featuring Foxy Brown) by Puff Daddy & The Family (7.75 minutes)
Searching by Luther Vandross (7.5 minutes)
Pump Me Up by Trouble Funk (6.75 minutes)
I’m Coming Out (Maurice Joshua Club Mix) by Diana Ross (8 minutes)
Shhh by Prince (7.25 minutes of Prince showing Tevin Campbell how it was supposed to be done!)
You Dropped a Bomb On Me by The Gap Band (13 minutes)
Two Can Play That Game by Bobby Brown (7 minutes)
Click for a sample of Two Can Play That Game
Dance Wit’ Me by Rick James (7.25 minutes)
Mothership Connection by George Clinton (7.5 minutes)

The Payback by James Brown (7.5 minutes)
Do I Do by Stevie Wonder (10.5 minutes)
Fire and Desire by Rick James & Teena Marie (7.25 minutes)
Love Serenade (Parts 1 & 2) by Barry White (7.75 minutes)
We Are Family by Sister Sledge (8.25 minutes)
Holiday (Dub) by Madonna (7 minutes)
Chocolate by The Time (7.5 minutes)
Click for a sample of Chocolate
Live4 Love by Prince (7 minutes)
Cool by The Time (10 minutes)
Papa's Got A Brand New Bag (Parts 1, 2, &3) by James Brown (7 minutes with instrumental solo's)

My how time flies when you’re having fun… time to head home.

I hope you enjoyed my Monday Rotation.

Wednesday Update (03/29/2006) - I have been playing with adding audio and eventually a plezCast (my version of a podcast) to this blog. Today, I've added a few music samples, click the audio post icon to listen.

Audio portions of this blog are powered by Create your own podcast at

Patti LaBelle Struggles on Stage

This past weekend, Patti LaBelle - diva supreme - had problems in getting on track at a show in Riviera Beach Jazz and Blues Festival in Florida. She apologized to her fans and eventually cut the show short.

Should her fans get their money back?

Now, I'm a Patti LaBelle fan from way back and I've seen her numerous times in concert. Other than Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross, you could not ask for a better live performance by an individual. I've been in the house when she has sang a song acapella without a microphone to an entire theater of people... something few people would ever even attempt. I've never seen her not give 100% to her fans. It could be that her health problems and age are finally catching up with her.

I only wish her the best and hope that she cancels her shows until she feels well enough to perform again.

Denzel Shines in Spike Lee's "Inside Man"

Twenty years ago (1986), I remember taking my girlfriend (now my wife) to see "She's Gotta Have It". There was a young Black director, named Spike Lee, who had scraped up the money to produce and direct the movie set in New York City. It was a controversial movie filmed in black and white, with a cool jazz soundtrack, and beautiful Black people. It was required viewing for my crowd.

Fast forward to last weekend. Saturday night with my four-year old daughter at her grandmother's house for a sleepover, my wife and I decided to take in Spike Lee's "Inside Man," starring the two time Academy Award-winning Denzel Washington. It also had standout performances by Academy Award-winning Jodie Foster and Clive Owen.

Well, the movie was great. I felt that it was Denzel Washington's best performance since Malcolm X. It is not your typical Spike Lee Joint, for one, Spike is NOT in the movie. It is very cerebral and has an excellent plot. In retrospect, it reminds me of "The Usual Suspects" without the blood and shooting. And the ending is similar to "The Usual Suspects"... I can't say more without giving it away. I want to see it again, because I know I missed how these guys were going to get away with the robbery.

The movie did a whopping $29 million on opening weekend taking the number one spot and relegating the number two movie to less than half of the revenue. Even if you are not a fan of Spike Lee movies, this is a must see.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Condi Rice & The C-Word

In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, the AP reports that a St. Louis radio station quickly fired a talk show host for uttering a racial epithet as he talked about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on his morning show Wednesday. He was apparently heaping praise on the Ms. Rice when he had the following slip of the tongue:
"She's been chancellor of Stanford. She's got the patent resume of somebody that has serious skill. She loves football. She's African-American, which would kind of be a big coon. A big coon. Oh my God. I am totally, totally, totally, totally, totally sorry for that."

As you can see, the talk show host immediately apologized. The station president and general manager went on the air 20 minutes later to apologize to Ms. Rice and the KTRS listeners:
"There can be no excuse for what was said. Dave Lenihan has been let go. ... There is enough hate. We certainly are not going to fan those flames."
Of course, the NAACP was quick to commend the station president for his swift action.

I may have missed something, but why was Dave Lenihan fired? It is obvious from the context of what he was saying, that calling Condoleeza Rice a "coon" was a slip of the tongue. It was a mistake. How is that fanning the flames of hate?

If we are so hypersensitive about everything and have to watch everything we say to everybody, we are going to get to the point where no one says anything. And that is going to be the saddest day of all, because when we stop talking, we stop communicating, and we stop learning how to understand each other. I would rather have a bigot call me the N-word, than have him act like he respects me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Kirk Franklin & Porn

In an AP article posted on, Kirk Franklin does a question and answer about his upcoming tour and his addiction to porn.

Although, I'm not necessarily inspired by his craft, I do see value in his message. It's a good and revealing read.

John Abraham Traded to the Falcons

After a woeful 2005-2006 NFL season, it was evidently clear that the Atlanta Falcons could not rely solely on the legs of Michael Vick to carry them into the playoffs. Without a defense to stop teams from scoring, the Falcons lost 4 close games by 3 points (Seattle, New England, and twice to Tampa Bay). Those 4 games were the difference between them going to the playoffs (with a division winning record of 12-4) and staying home (with a record of 8-8) in January.

Enter John Abraham, formerly of the New York Jets, is a three-time Pro Bowl selection in six seasons, has 53.5 sacks, fourth on the Jet's all-time list. He will bring a presence on stopping the run and putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Abraham becomes a Falcon after a three way trade of draft picks with Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, and New York Jets.

Last week, the trade seemed in jeopardy, because the Jets wanted Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub as part of the deal. Since he has been a decent insurance policy (because Michael Vick's style of play lends itself to injury), the Falcons were reticent to release the competent Schaub. Falcons fans near and far are applauding the addition of a crucial piece to the struggling defensive line.

My Falcons Wish List:
* An experienced wide receiver for Michael Vick to throw to; last year, our best wide receiver was second string Brian Fenneran and the best receiver was tight end Alge Crumpler
* An experienced defensive back to help out in the secondary
* A punishing tailback (a la Ricky Williams or Shawn Alexander) to help Warwick Dunn carry the load - he's really good, but how much longer can he take the punishment of the NFL?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Debra LaFave – A Child Molester Is Set Free, Again

The Smoking Gun reports back on November 22 that Debra LaFave escapes jail time by pleading guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with a 14-year old boy at the school where she taught. In a shocker, Ms. LaFave has escaped jail time a second time in a different jurisdiction where the Assistant State Attorney DROPPED THE CHARGES AGAINST HER!

She had sex with this boy on numerous occasions in a variety of locations: in her home, in the backseat of her SUV while his cousin drove them around, and in the portable classrooms at the school. What the HECK is going on down in Florida? Is it because a judge said that she is “too pretty” to go to jail? Is it because she is giving up “her goodies” to the prosecutors? It appears that the judge for the case initially rejected the plea deal, but I guess he got hooked up as well! Now that’s some “sloppy seconds” for you.

The article says that the boy (remember, he is only 14 years old) “suffered extreme anxiety from the media coverage of the case and does not want to testify.” How many girls and young women aren’t given the option of letting the state drop charges against a rapist because of intense media coverage? This is a double standard of the worse kind. This crazy lady has probably ruined this boy emotionally for the rest of his life and she only has to give up her teacher’s license and go see a sex therapist?

But I guess the authorities in Marion County, Florida have difficulty in seeing how this boy was victimized. Since he is a teenager, he must’ve really wanted to be in a sexual relationship with a woman who is twice is age. RIGHT!

Bill Lester – What the Fuss?

It’s been 20 years since Willy T. Ribbs was buckled into a NASCAR Series vehicle and took to the black top in a race. On Monday, Bill Lester was strapped into his green and gold Waste Management car and participated in the NASCAR Golden Corral 500. Bill Lester became the first Black person to participate in a NASCAR race since 1986. Some would say that this is a cause for celebration and jubilation in the Black community. Hmmm, barely a whisper?

Didn’t Tiger Woods’ monumental victory at the Masters in 1997 represent a high water mark in achievement’s for Blacks in non-traditional sports? Well, it did start a groundswell of interest for people who had never played golf before; I’m included in that group – I went out and bought my first set of clubs and started taking lessons a few months after Tiger’s victory. But, to date, Tiger Woods is the only African American on the PGA Tour (and it’s been close to 10 years since he broke the record for scoring at the Masters).

Well, if you thought that golf was the last bastion for exclusivity, think again. NASCAR racing which has its roots firmly embedded in white Southern tradition, Budweiser beer, tricked out RV campers, and flapping Confederate flags has got PGA Golf beat. Race cars are a lot more expensive than a set of golf clubs, the engineering that goes into the development of the engines, tires, and associated equipment, not to mention the hiring of automotive expertise runs into the tens of millions of dollars on an annual basis. The entire circuit is fueled by endorsement deals that require deep pockets and the patience for a team to develop enough of a following to make the venture profitable. That doesn’t leave the door wide open to a lot of newcomers or non-traditional participants.

This isn’t a sport for the faint of heart or those without lots of endorsement deals. Enter Bill Lester, a 45-year old Berkley engineering graduate with an infectious smile and cool demeanor. Like Tiger Woods, he appears to have the cool to make it big, but does he have the marquee value to pull it off. Tiger Woods made a big splash because he won… and he won big on golf’s biggest stage: The Masters. On Monday, Bill Lester started in the middle of the pack and finished somewhere near the back (in 38th place). To make an impact on the sport, he’ll have to be more than a bit player or do better than come near the end of the pack.

In an AP article, Bill Lester says:
“It was a very significant learning experience for me. It was fun to be out there with them. This is just the beginning and we have two more (Nextel Cup) races to go. I got a late start in my career and I'm trying to catch up as quick as I can."

In another quote, Lester said he hopes he earned some respect from the other Cup drivers.
"I was able to bring it home in one piece and able to build up my database of knowledge. There were some opportunities for me to take some chances and I could have gotten in the way. But I'm not trying to do that."

I know the media (especially ESPN) salivates over the opportunity to be part of sports history, but I don’t think this event qualifies. I know it’s been 20 years, but Bill Lester didn’t win the race (he was 38th of the 41 cars that finished). He’ll have to go back, tweak his engine, and work on breaking into the top ten in his two remaining races. What he did was a great personal accomplishment. When he takes the checkered flag at Daytona or Talledega, then we can hail that as a historical event.

Property Rights or Property Wrongs?

Do you have the right to shoot anyone who unlawfully breaks into your home?
How about someone who pulls threateningly into your driveway?
What about someone who walks across your well manicured lawn?

Well, Charles Martin of Batavia, Ohio took umbrage with a teenager beating a path across his well kept lawn and decided to take matters into his own hands. The following story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution brings a pretty ugly episode to light:
BATAVIA, Ohio — A man who neighbors say was devoted to his meticulously kept lawn was charged with murder in the shooting of a 15-year-old boy who apparently walked across his yard.

Charles Martin called 911 on Sunday afternoon, saying calmly: "I just killed a kid."

Police, who released the call's contents, said Martin also told the dispatcher: "I've been harassed by him and his parents for five years. Today just blew it up."

Larry Mugrage, whose family lived next door, was shot in the chest with a shotgun. The high school freshman was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Martin, 66, allegedly told police he had several times had problems with neighbors walking on his lawn. He remained jailed without bond Monday. His jailers said no attorney was listed for him.

Neighbors said Martin lived alone quietly, often sitting in front of his one-story home with its neat lawn, well-trimmed shrubbery and flag pole with U.S. and Navy flags flying.

Joanne Ritchie, 46, said Mugrage was known as "a good kid," but she always also considered Martin to be friendly.

Union Township is near Batavia, about 20 miles east of Cincinnati.
I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure if there is a precedent for this or if this guy even has a legal leg to stand on. But it does bring into question the notion of property and privacy rights in the United States. Remember the Randy Weaver and Ruby Ridge debacle in 1992 where a federal marshall was killed by a family who claimed to be defending their property. Maybe someone can shed some light on the matter.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's Hard Out Here for Three 6 Mafia

They've been excoriated on websites and blogs for the last couple of weeks for bringing down the Black race after winning an Oscar for Best Song with their vulgar hit "Hard Out Here for a Pimp." A number of bloggers (me included) jumped up and down on our soapboxes about how The Academy was mocking us by recognizing our most base and vulgar artforms with Oscar nominations and statuettes. Well, the following story kind of brings it home for me. Now, I'll have to plead ignorance, because I'd never heard of Three 6 Mafia until the Oscars a few weeks ago. Apparently, they don't only rap about being a pimp, but they also rap about other uplifting topics: a rap about "starting a riot" has gotten them into trouble. Natalie Finn filed the following story for E! Online:
Three 6 Mafia, you just won an Oscar, where are you going now?

How about, um, Pittsburgh.

The rap group is heading to the Steel City after getting slapped with a lawsuit from a fan who claims he was beaten up at an Aug. 26, 2003 concert during a performance of the song "Let's Start a Riot."

Ramone Williams, who was 19 at the time of the alleged attack, is suing Three 6 Mafia's individual members--Jordan "Juicy J" Houston, Paul "DJ Paul" Beauregard and Cedric Coleman--the group as a whole and the concert venue. Williams says that members of the audience took the song too seriously, and by the time it ended, he had been thrown to the ground, hit with a chair, stomped on and kicked in the face, leaving him with a fractured jaw.

Two other rappers, Robert "Koopsta Knicca" Cooper and Darnell "Crunchy Black" Carlton, are also named in the complaint. They were the ones who actually performed "Let's Start a Riot" that night.

The lawsuit, filed in July, states that both Three 6 Mafia and the Rock Jungle Night Club in Pittsburgh (which is no longer in business) neglected to warn concertgoers about the possibility of violence that evening, or to protect them when fists--and feet--allegedly started flying.

In a twist of hindsight, Williams is also claiming that the club should not have permitted him--an underage customer--to go in at all.

James E. Pasquale, Williams' attorney, was quoted in the Friday edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Three 6 Mafia have been ordered to give depositions and that he expects the defendants to appear in Pittsburgh by the end of April.

The Memphis-based rappers are being represented by Pittsburgh attorney John E. Hall, who told reporters that the group denies all of Williams' accusations.

A trial could begin by November, per the Post-Gazette.

Up until now Three 6 Mafia have only been guilty of inciting Academy members to vote for them. Their Hustle and Flow anthem, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," snagged the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 78th Academy Awards earlier this month, prompting host Jon Stewart to remark, "I think it just got a little bit easier out there for a pimp."

Personally, it appears to me that Mr. Williams is trying to cash in on the group's recent upsurge in fame (the Hustle & Flow soundtrack shot up 70 spots on the Billboard 200 album chart). But when you rap about pimpin' ho's and startin' riots, someone may get caught up in your version of reality and may decide to get compensation when your illicit illusions lead to a fractured jaw or a knot upside their head!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Claude Allen - The Evil Twin Theory

As strange as his resignation seemed a few weeks ago to the alleged thefts from Target, there appears to be another component of Claude Allen's life that may swing this story from a dark episode of "West Wing" to a storyline in the soap opera "All My Children."

It seems that Claude Allen has an identical twin brother. A twin brother whose life hasn't been as charmed Claude's. Apparently, Claude's brother - Floyd - has had his share of troubles since his college days. The New Times reports:
Like others who know him, his stepmother cannot understand the turn of
events. "I simply have no idea where things could have gone wrong in his life,"
Mrs. Allen said.

Floyd was the twin who "kept running into bad times," while Claude
Allen intervened repeatedly to help him, she said.

In 2001, Floyd Allen declared bankruptcy in Virginia; a year earlier he
was ordered to pay $6,450 in a civil suit brought against him by a travel
company, according to state and federal records.

The plot thickens as Claude Allen seems to brush off the charges and tells a close confidant that only one side of the story has been told. It shouldn't be too long before we see the Beltway start to spin the "Evil Twin" Theory. I bet Scooter Libby would've never thought of this one in a million years!

55 Questions

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:50 am.
2. Diamonds or pearls? A Diamond, of course.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Curious George with my 4 year old daughter.
4. What is your favorite TV show? The Shield on FX.
5. What did you have for breakfast? Half of a blueberry muffin and a cup of coffee.
6. What is your favorite cuisine? Soul food.
7. What foods do you dislike? Leftovers and vegetarian meals.
8. Your favorite Potato chip? Ruffles ... add some sour cream dip and I'm in heaven!
9. What is your favorite CD at the moment? I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) by Aretha Franklin - in my estimation, this is easily the best album of any genre (soul, r&b, pop, rock), of any era... period!
10. What kind of car do you drive? 1997 Ford Explorer - Eddie Bauer Edition.
11. Favorite sandwich? Italian submarine sandwich with light oil and vinegar.
12. What characteristics do you despise? Conceit.
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Any sun-drenched beach in the Caribbean.
14. What color is your bathroom? Wallpaper is white with grey and gold streaks.
15. Favorite brand of clothing? Ralph Lauren Polo.
16. Where would you want to retire to? I'm living in my retirement home right now (Metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia).
17. Favorite time of day? 10:00 pm.
18. Where were you born? North Tarrytown (now known as Sleepy Hollow), New York.
19. Favorite sport to watch? On television: college basketball & golf. In person: college football.
20. What laundry detergent do you use? Tide.
21. Coke or Pepsi? Coke.
22. Are you a morning person or night owl? Late night owl.
23. What size shoe do you wear? 12.
24. Do you have pets? No. We had an episode with a Beta fish last year, one that I'd just as soon forget.
25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with everyone? Yesterday, I bought a Griffin Road Trip (FM Transmitter and Charger) for my iPod, so I can now listen to my music in my car without wearing headphones.
26. Favorite Candy Bar? Reese's peanut butter cups or Payday.
27. What is your best childhood memory? Riding my bicycle with my ears pinned back by the wind.
28. What are the different jobs you have had in your life? Paperboy, yard maintenance, grocery bagger, engineering co-operative education student, retail sales (men's shirts and ties), help desk (computer software), account/project manager (computer software), sales operations manager, crm consultant (computer systems development, project management, analyst, and training program development).
29. What color underwear are you wearing? Black.
30. Nicknames: plez... (I never was one for nicknames and they were forbidden in my household when I was growing up).
31. Piercing? None.
32. Ever been to Africa? No.
33. Ever been toilet papering? No.
34. Love someone so much it made you cry? Yes, if you don't cry, then you're not in love.
35. Been in a car accident? In 1977, I almost killed my parents and sister when I flipped our Cadillac in a ditch after skidding on a patch of ice.
36. Fruit or Vegetables? Fruit.
37. Croutons or bacon bits? Bacon bits.
38. Favorite day of the week? Friday.
39. Favorite restaurant? Olive Garden.
40. Favorite ice cream? Rocky Road.
41. Disney or Warner Brothers? Disney by a nose.
42. Favorite fast food restaurant? McDonald's.
43. What color is your bedroom carpet? Off-white.
44. How many times did you fail your driver's test? Zero.
45. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Best Buy.
46. What do you do most often when you are bored? Take a nap.
47. Bedtime? 12:00 midnight.
48. Who are you most curious about their responses to this questionnaire? Mine.
49. Last person you went to dinner with? My wife and daughter.
50. What are you listening to right now? Nothing.
51. What is your favorite color? Green with Red running a close second.
52. Lake, Ocean or river? Ocean.
53. How many tattoos do you have? None.
54. Who sent this to you and what is something you didn't know about him/her? I gleaned this from ZERODOLL's blog and I didn't know her before I wandered onto her site... well, I think she's a her!
55. Time you finished this questionnaire? 1:53 pm.

Where did these questions come from? Zero Doll received some spam with these questions and she added it to her blog. Since I hate spamming people, re-used her spam in my blog. Help yourself and add this list to your site.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Claude Allen - Eating Humble Pie

In a surprising weekend development, it was learned that a high ranking White House insider has been padding his $160,000 salary with over $5,000 worth of goods from Target and Hecht's. Yes, Claude Allen, Bush's top domestic policy advisor was nabbed after receiving 25 "refunds" for products that he didn't buy.

CNN reports: The items ranged from a Bose theater system to a photo printer to clothing to small items valued at $2.50.

The Slate reports that Mr. Allen baffled administration critics and backers when he abruptly resigned his White House post back in February 9,2006 after only one year on the job. He cited the need to spend more time with his family. He was busted by the Montgomery County Police on January 2, 2006, I guess he wanted to get in some quality time, before heading to the Big House.

Prior to his job as President Bush's top domestic policy advisor, Mr. Allen was the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Claude Allen was known as a right-wing ultraconservative ideologue who once worked on a Jesse Helms re-election campaign, where he spewed homophobic rhetoric. He was seen as a rising star in the Republican Party and was a George Bush nominee for a circuit court judgeship that was stalled by the Democrats in Congress.

Admittedly, I didn't see much television this weekend, but I would think that someone this close to the President in this type of hot water would warrant more critism by the press (this news wasn't even a short blurb on the cover of today's USA Today and you have to do a search to find the story on Maybe all the whining about the Liberal press has finally gotten to them.

I won't say he got his comeuppance, because I don't wish harm on anyone. And any high ranking government official who gets caught engaging in this type of petty crime is probably more clinical than criminal. I just hope he gets some psychiatric help while he sits in jail eating his humble pie.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Get on the Love Train

Just rolling around town on a Friday night and The O'Jays' "Love Train" comes on my Sirius satellite radio. I throw back the moon roof on my SUV, turn up the volume, and let the love flow. I just thought I'd capture the moment on my Palm Treo 650... so I could share it with you.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Black. White. Race. Swap.

The reality show industry is now a well-oiled machine. We have game shows like "Survivor" and "Flava of Love," and in lieu of the oh so popular sitcoms, we now have riveting real-life dramas like "Wife Swap" and "Super Nanny" where a lady of England comes to the United States and whips your unruly kids into shape! Well, an interesting turn on the parent swap show is a new race swap show that debuted on last night. A writer for the Slate had an interesting commentary on last night's "Black. White." which aired on FX.

I've seen the two families on a few talk shows like Oprah, Larry King Live, and CNN. I am away from home in a hotel that doesn't receive the FX channel, so I'll have to wait until this weekend to watch it on my Dish Network DVR. From what I've seen and read about the show, I do have a perspective on it.

Unfortunately, this division between the Black and White races has been with us since before this country was founded and it is something that WE have never had the grace nor the guts to honesty discuss. We refuse to discuss the psychological and debilitating effect that being descendants of slaves has had on generations of Black people. We refuse to discuss the issue of White privilege and how many White people feel this privilege is their prerogative. We refuse to discuss the complex and deeply ingrained reasons for this country to have such a large and seemingly unmotivated Black underclass that no amount of money can eradicate. We refuse to talk about why there is a perception that Black neighborhoods are more prone to crime than their White counterparts. And we refuse to talk about why we cannot talk about these issues with one another without the discussion gravitating into baseless name-calling and accusations.

I think the show "Black. White." was supposed to be an effort to broach some of these subjects, but even as these two families went about with their race swap, the ability to honestly and openly discuss their feelings and perceptions was never realized. The Black family thinks the White family members are racially insensitive, and the White family thinks the Black family members are hypersensitive.

Fox and ABC both have these "wife swap" shows, and I think they run into the same (or similar) issues when they have the big roundup at the end of the show. The other family is always "too strict," or "too liberal," or "too conservative," or "too clean," or "too dirty." I guess it is very easy to see the mote in someone else's eye, when we can't see that big ole log in our own!

I have even had the chance to run across some other perspectives on race relations.
Right Wing Sparkle writes in her blog:
I chaperoned a dance recently where another mother was discussing how glad she
was that there weren't many blacks at the school. I said, "how can you say such
a thing?" She rolled her eyes, "I'm just being honest. With them comes drugs,
crime, and godawful music." I just walked away.

A conservative blogger from the Massachusetts is apparently nonplussed by those who choose to race bait:
Bottom line; don't look for trouble where it doesn't exist. True equality will
not be reached until both races can look at each other without having the first
thought in their heads being "He's a different race". Unfortunately, I don't see
that happening for a few generations, until all lingering vestiges of racism are
forgotten by our descendents. I mean, look how far we've come in 50 years. I am
very hopeful this won't even be an issue by the time my grandchildren are in school.

Mixed Media Watch has another perspective on the show:

The clearest message from this show is that color is only half the battle.
There's a cultural gulf between (stereo)"typical" black and white families (and
they both described themselves as typical) that the producers didn't attempt to
bridge until the show actually got started. And, as Rose so astutely put it,
they all deal in the language of stereotypes. Oh, and none of them looks great,
but Renee ain't foolin anyone.
Hopefully, this show will continue to give Americans who are Black and White the opportunity to talk about our differences, so that we can find those things that unite us and minimize those things that divide us.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Un-Education of the Black Community

What the HECK is going on? Our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents endured years of oppression and degradation in the last century. This country's courts seemingly realized the error of it's ways by throwing the Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) decision into the trash heap of jurisprudence with the Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954). In the span of those 50 years - 2 generations - the Black community (by and large) has essentially thrown the Brown decision into another trash heap altogether. All the strides that were made to ensure that all Black children would have the specter of a quality education have been squandered away in the name of being "Black."

The Brown decision didn't just give our Black children the right to sit beside a White child in school. The Brown decision was supposed to give our Black children the right to a quality education. But 50 years later, we are hard pressed to see any tangible benefits from Brown. We see affluent Black communities (near the nation's capital) where students have flashy cars, nice clothes, and all of the trappings of successful parents, yet they participate in some of the worst state-run school systems. A recent Washington Post article gave the Prince George's County Public Schools "An F for Effort." Seemingly awash in successful Black entrepreneurs and government workers, these students are slowly wasting away their educational opportunities.

I live in metropolitan Atlanta where there is a CLEAR division between the predominantly White communities and Black communities. Our predominantly Black communities consistently have the lowest state test scores. I live in a predominantly Black community in a county that has a clear division in the SAT test scores; in our schools, the SAT scores are below the national and state (which are probably the lowest in the nation) averages. If you look at the 2005 DeKalb County SAT Scores, ALL of the scores below the state average are in Black communities and ALL of the scores that are above the state average are in predominantly White communities in the county.

Some would say that this is the miseducation of our youth, I say this is the uneducation of our community. We've moved so far away from where we came from as a people. We used to treasure high moral codes of behavior and discipline. Imagine going to church every Sunday and praying to a God who you knew wasn't going to answer your prayers. Imagine getting smacked in the mouth by your next door neighbor because she heard you uttering a curse word, now our kids are cursing at their teachers and parents with equal vigor. And Lord knows the beatdown I would've gotten for coming out of the house with a do-rag on my head, now a do-rag is a fashion statement.

Yeah, some of us are doing alright: I was blessed with getting a very good college education and being able to make a pretty good living at something that I love to do. But we are leaving a mass of folk behind. There is no way for us to grow and prosper as a community when we have so much graft dragging down. We have a tendency to glorify the worst and the most morally base things in our community. The way we talk (nigga this, nigga that), the way we dress (our little girls dressed like those video vixens who are dressed like imitation hookers and our boys in sagging pants like they wear in the penitentiary), the way we relate to each other (the lack of respect for our elders) ... we've lost our way and are quickly solidifying ourselves a second-class citizenship that Brown vs. Board of Education was supposed to eradicate.

I cannot even think about sending my daughter to the public schools where I live. She is only four years old, but she is a two year veteran of the Montessori method of education. They cannot make the tuition high enough to keep me from keeping her enrolled there. And when that runs out, there are a number of options available for good private schools. I wouldn't be able to look myself in the face if I submitted to only one day of the unruly, unfocused, and uninspired atmosphere of the DeKalb County Schools in my neck of the woods! When more successful Black people decide to reclaim our right to a quality public education, I may be inclined to change my mind... something tells me that things will only get worse. I cannot be optimistic about a change in the un-education of the Black community.

Moldy Bread & Barry Bonds

Have you ever dug into that old wrinkled plastic bag of Wonder bread planning to pull out a few slices for a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Remember how disgusting it was to see that musty, dry bread with those flecks of invading black bread mold on the edges? Remember how you no longer wanted that sandwich, even if there was a new and unopened bag available?

That's how I felt when I read that latest story on the alleged steroid use (okay, okay... he did admit to mistakenly using some steroid cream during his grand jury testimony) by the San Francisco Giant's outfielder Barry Bonds. Who among us, who has a shred of intelligence was surprised when we were bludgeoned with this story of steroids in baseball soon after he broke Mark Maguire's home run record in 2001? I know, they BOTH refuted the allegations, but you could look at the bulked up biceps, the oft-erratic behavior during interviews, and see those magnificent home runs to know that SOMETHING was up!

Keep in mind, Major League Baseball did not ban these performance enhancing products until 2002, so he wasn't breaking any rules of the game. It's funny there was no ban when Mark McGuire and Sammy Socsa were knocking them out of the park with regularity in 1998! And Major League Baseball didn't put any real teeth into enforcing the ban until last year.

So it's been about 5 or 6 years that this has been common knowledge (despite the protestations) and now we have this "bombshell" of a book telling us what we've known all along! What bombshell? Okay, they have detailed records about how and when he spread the cream on his biceps. WOW! I'm really impressed by this example of journalistic tenacity... give me break. He already has the proverbial asterisk by his home run records, so what are they going to do now... add another asterisk?!?

I guess I won't be watching any ESPN tonight, because I tire easily of sactimonious and self-serving pontification. I'll have to settle for a Caesar salad (with no croutons) and an innocuous escape with American Idol.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Covenant Comes to My Hometown

While a student a Georgia Tech back in the 1980's, I had the fortune of taking a Black Studies course - a benign elective to garner some humanity credits for my intense electrical engineering curriculum. A very interesting class indeed, we focused mainly on Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, and their differing philosophies. I was really enlightened by DuBois' treatise on "The Talented Tenth" and how this group would raise all of the boats of Black Americans. At that time, I guess I had the feeling that I should belong in this distinguished group.

"The Talented Tenth" which was written in 1903 begins:
"The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races."
DuBois takes his time and states his case for how these exceptional men will save a race of people who had recently (less than 40 years) been freed from the bondage of slavery. DuBois ends the paper by re-stating the opening sentence, "The Negro race, like all other races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men."

Now, what led me to ruminate about a college class that I took over 20 years ago? It was three things: it has been a little over 40 years since the signing of the Civil Rights Act , a little under 40 years since we lost a true member of our talented tenth - Martin Luther King, Jr., and just last weekend, Tavis Smiley hosted "The State of the Black Union." Wow! In just under 40 years, I wonder where have our talented tenth gone and where is the Tide of Enlightenment that was supposed to raise all of Black America's boats? Enter Tavis Smiley.

Engaging. Fast talker. Sound bite equipped. Television ready.

A bit of a huckster, if you ask me. Mr. Smiley hosts a symposium on C-SPAN, brings in a bunch of his likeminded cronies to pontificate and crow about how bad things are for the Black people who got left behind, he gets his cronies to write papers on what should be done, and then goes on tour the following week to peddle his book entitled, "Covenant with Black America."

Maybe I'm way off base here, but if this Covenant is so noteworthy and so necessary to - in the words of DuBois - save the race, why is this book being sold? Shouldn't this book be posted on the Internet, freely distributed to churches, community centers, and schools in poor Black communities. Shouldn't there be seminars and conferences on how these great ideas can be implemented? Shouldn't this blog be about how our talented tenth has finally gotten it right?

Well, the Covenant with Black America Tour comes to my hometown tonight. As a matter of fact, the Decatur, GA church where it is being held is less than 2 miles from my home. I guess I should show up early so I can get one of the free books for the first 200 attendees.

I think not. You see, I didn't need a Covenant to tell me that the only way to end the cycle of poverty and despair and ignorance in the Black community is through education and personal responsibility. My neighbors and our surrounding neighborhoods have little to learn from the Covenant.

The Covenant book tour doesn't need to come to the second most affluent Black community (DeKalb County, GA) in the United States (we're running a close second to Prince George's County in Maryland). This tour needs to make a stop in the crime-ridden, drug dealer infested, inner city neighborhoods about 20 miles to the west in downtown Atlanta. Those neighborhoods need the Covenant a lot more than my neighbors and me. Let's see how many Tour participants decide to roll through that part of Atlanta?

I guess today's Talented Tenth is too busy raising their own boats to get rid of the very plague that is lining their pockets with wealth. If all Black communities knew how to prosper, I guess Tavis Smiley and his ilk wouldn't have much to talk about. Something to think about before someone buys a book that they don't need from someone who's getting rich by selling it.