A thoughtful reader directed me to a budding academic smackdown on hiphop linguistics. Apparently, some noob declared himself the first Canadian research to recognize the double-negative in black American speech. I had that discussion with my french teacher when I was a sophomore in highschool. Apparently, the bigger mistake is studying AAVE through the lens of hiphop. That's a chicken and egg or a chicken and coq au vin problem. I mean deconstructing a lyricist like Pos is hardly going to give you insight to what's being said on the corner by Jamal 40Dog (that's Joe Sixpack at the Albee Square Mall). Nor is looking for what's being said in the Dirty South going to give you any indication of what rappers are going to say next.
Dr. Darin Howe recently contributed a book chapter that focuses on how black Americans use the negative in informal speech, citing examples from hip hop artists such as Phonte, Jay Z and Method Man. Howe is believed to be the only academic in Canada and one of the few in the world to take a scholarly look at the language of hip hop.
As Friedman remarks, a little basic fact-checking would have helped
here. There's been plenty of serious academic research on hiphop,
including linguistic research, for quite some time now. Friedman
quickly Googled up a bibliography of hiphop scholarship compiled by
John Ranck of Simmons College, to which I'd add the even more extensive
bibliography maintained at the Hiphop Archive website.
I think the subject is fairly devoid of profundity and I defer to Avery Tooley in these matters anyway, but I always find the etymology of hiphop a curious subject. To the extent I find lyrics mistranslated it's cool to understand the idioms of the 'hood. But the sociological impact of lyrics on the hood and vice versa isn't a particularly insightful meme if you ask me. While I complain about the derangement of hiphop and the vulgarity of its creations, I don't harbor any illusions that something special is going on here. Human beings are apt to be crude and even perverse for the sake of perversity. When nobody cares, there's nothing to keep that perversity in check. You can call it 'the culture of the ghetto' if you like, but it's still universal. Just because some slick American businessmen figured out a way to commoditize it doesn't make it more than what it is.
I mention McWhorter because I think his love for blackfolks gets him in trouble in this regard. He espouses, as an educator, a high standard of conduct and despairs at the conduct (and language) of the black masses. So while I might punt this football his way, even if he carries across the goal it doesn't score many points in the game of life.
See, I think all of those National Geographic specials with native folks music have been edited for television. Anywhere women don't do the equivalent of vote, all the love songs are just booty songs. You do know what 'squaw' means, don't you?
I was explaining to Pops the other night what the problem with the Left is. The biggest problem is that they have no brainpower. Not that Leftist ideas are fundamentally stupid, I think that there are any number of people who could have made Socialism work in Russia better than Stalin. But that the American Left has suffered a mighty brain-drain which is not about to be reversed any time soon.
The greatest symptom of this is the Idiotarian Liberal, many of which display the classic symptoms of Bush Derangement Syndrome. They have become a mockery of themselves, and I think that's a bad thing for the nation that the opposition has just gone silly. Every other week, it seems, the grab onto a headline and launch a rabid attack meme that flies for a while and then dies. Everything in the news is a reaction to these attacks, and a great waste of political energy.
I'm going to watch this litany closely. They represent the opportunities wasted by the left that would make our democracy a bit more robust. This week, the extended BDS meme is all about 'Too Much Executive Privilege' which is basically a gripe about the domestic spying. You will note a couple things here. The first is that this has not risen to the level of a lawsuit. So nobody is actually seeking an injunction against the president's actions. Secondly, I think it has become abundantly clear (or at least I respect the arguments) that FISA, written in 1978, simply cannot deal with current technologies and the statute must be updated. Thirdly, while I have weighed in against the illegality as overreach, it is clear that action is better than inaction.
The spillover from this has been a failed attempt to convince the Senate that Alito's greatest failing is that he would accede to such executive overreach. Sorry. Better luck next time.
We say good bye to the Mike of the other Cynthia & Michael. He was taken by cancer last week. I can't ever remember this guy not working. It seemed to me that he was always busy about something. He was a good looking guy. Quiet, serious, polite, but never dorky. He and Cynthia were a great match. Both dedicated workaholics, always pursuing the dream. The news was a shock and it's still hard to believe. Mike appeared to be in perfect health, but the cancer was found much too late.
When someone I know dies, I take it upon myself to assume part of their character. That way they live on in me. So i will attempt to be more 'about it', because I knew few people who were as dedicated as Michael Johnson.
Born to Sonny an Elseta Johnson on September 14, 1961, Michael George Johnson was a father, a husband and a friend to many. Determined to reach success form a young age, Michael's journey began in London, England where he attended Tollington Park High School and graduated early to got onot Kingsway Princeton College.
Michael was an avid photographer. He worked in the heart of London for several years as a graphic artist specializing in photography and advertising. At age 38 Michael decided to take a risk and try life in America. He went on to reside in Redondo Beach, California where he met an married is wonderful wife Cynthia Moore in 2001. Michael was a very intelligent, strong and driven man. Never taking no for an answer and always striving for the best he used his artistic ability to start his own company disigning and creating hand crafted iron doors and railings.
Amongst many relatives he is survived by his mother Elseta, his sister Patsy, his brother John, his three chldrenn Jarrell, Natanya and Jasmine, and his wife Cynthia. Michale will always be remembered by his family and friends as a quiet yet ambitions, strong and determined soul.
His life journey came to a close at the tender age of 44. He will be deeply missed by all.
When you're a crusty old man, everything that comes over the airwaves is obvious. Nobody on the planet possesses enough time and talent to broadcast anything significantly substantial enough to alter any perspectives. Even with 500 channels, it's still an idiot box, IF you are well-read.
Part of the problem with this being a political blog is that most of the news I get never comes with enough detail to be a genuine surprise or learning experience for me. So I set down to write on a daily basis and it all seems like it should go into 'Obligatory Seriousness'. However the victory of Hamas in Palestine in the wake of the death of Arafat and the end of Sharon is one of those counter-intuitive blessings that I love.
I think that it is an extraordinarily great thing that Hamas has got to step up and govern. In the same way, I am pleased with what's going on in Iran. In both cases, the suppressed heinous desires of a mealy-mouthed people is coming to the fore. I suspect that within a year we will see full-blown cowardice on a scale that will shake the world out of its daydreaming. The assumptions about the motivations of the masses can be twisted and turned and second-guessed from here until the sacred cows come home. But there's nothing quite like calling the cards on the table of democracy. Here is where it finally shows up.
Very much like the war in Iraq, the opportunity for all of the crackpots, jacklegs, nutcases, suicidal rebels and other self-destructive mental cases has been made plain. Iraq became the place where all of your idiot dreams of killing American soldiers were made manifest; and where every maladjusted and misinformed conspiracy theorist in the First World had an opportunity to see exactly how significant was their Baby Bin Laden Theory. We destroyed all of the militant midget mullahs and their meatheaded mercenaries. The great armies of the Caliphate have been reduced to street gangs.
And so it will be with Hamas. They are not going to change direction. They are the investors in and inventors of the suicide bomb attack on civilians. They have had years to consider their strategies and tactics and now they have deftly and soundly defeated their political opponents. It says quite a bit that those Palestinians most invested in moderation are corrupted beyond repair, and those most single-mindedly focused on disciplined change and reform are hell-bent on the destruction of their neighbors. There is no change to be had. The will of the people has been made manifest, what lies ahead is the inevitable.
The inevitable will be an even more ragtage ethnic Palestinian minority subsumed into a single dominant Israel. The dreams of Palestinian nationalism are about to come crashing down and their inevitable dependence will be made crystal clear. All we need do now is sit back and watch the tortured dreams of the manic and the single-minded madness work its magic. There can be and there will be no Palestinian nation so long as the fundamental expression of its political will is to blame its problems on Israel. And our Secretary of State should withdraw every penny of aid until the new Palestinian government demonstrates its ability and willingness to disband the Hamas Militia. Of course Hamas will not disarm, and its soldiers will not confine themselves to quarters. This is a 'nation' whose fundamental contribution to the region is destructive suicide. We should expect nothing less.
There's a new aggregator in town, and it looks rather sweet. Right now there are three or four venues where you can catch syndications of Cobb. Periodically, Booker Rising will pull one of my half-way decent essays, the rest are automatic (Conservative Brotherhood, Black Bloggers Assn and Punditdrome). Add to that Six24.
Put together by Courtney Payne (NSBE, FAMU), the site is polished and performs well. He's adding features and taking feedback, so jump to it.
As Vice President of Product Marketing, Fred Johnson brings a wealth of business savvy to the Amp'd marketing group, providing an acute sense of what works for the Amp'd demographic to help establish the company as a leader in wireless entertainment. Formerly with Apple Computer's Applications Marketing group, Fred was responsible for driving marketing and feature definitions for new product releases. Prior to his 3.5 successful years at Apple, Johnson served as Creative Director for Yahoo! Inc., where he oversaw the company's broadband services including streaming broadcasts, and private webcasts. He is the author of the best-selling book Global Mobile: Connecting without Walls, Wires, or Borders. Fred resides in Marina Del Rey, CA with his Fiance Elsa, and cat Baba.
I was actually in my car listening to this squirrel on the Hugh Hewitt show last Friday. It was yet another of Hewitt's masterful disembowelings, I am coming to expect. One of the things that captivated me about the interview - which is something finally I think Hewitt may come to embody - is Hugh's recognition of the value of work. I mean work in the modern sense of the word, not as his subject thinks, in the post-modern sense. A columnist at the LAT whose editor passed no contextual judgement on a weekly thousand words or so is not working in the modern sense. He is filling space.
In many ways I am coming to think of editors of newspapers like the LA Times rather like I think of the old business development blueshirts of Silicon Valley who 'monetized clicks'. Check out this dialog:
HH: Do you honor the service that their son did?
JS: To honor the service their son...now this is a dumb question, but what do you mean by honor? That's a word you keep using. I'm not entirely...maybe that's my problem. But I'm not entirely sure what you're...
HH: Honor usually means gratitude and esteem. Are you grateful for and esteem what he did? Honestly?
JS: Honestly? I admire the bravery. I don't...you know, I feel like he did something I could never do, so I'm kind of in awe on some level. Am I grateful, that I feel like he protected me? Um, no I don't.
HH: And so, do you think he died in vain?
JS: Yeah. I do. And that's why I'm so horrified by all this, and why I don't want empty sentiments prolonging the war.
Empty sentiments? This guy has a lot of nerve talking about empty sentiments considering what he calls working for a living.
Perhaps it doesn't seem fair that half the blogosphere, or at least a significant portion out here on the West Coast has gone knocking on this guy's forehead looking for evidence of a soul, but I think we all should. So I am piling on in hopes that at some point in our history we will be able to look back at people who drink whiskey and know that we're not just doing it to offend the non-smoking PC crowd. We drink because it actually hurts our heads to listen to such claptrap. Has all honest reporting gone to sportswriting? If only Frank DeFord could edit the LA Times.
I haven't really opined on the matter tangential to this which is the destiny of the Disney Company and brand under the influence of Steve Jobs. In many ways he is a great master of the post-modern. Apple Computers are great silly machines that make people millionaires, but don't do any real work. The real number crunching power in the computing world happens in software like Oracle and SAP and in databases like DB2 and Teradata. Apples play music and drive millions of colors onto large flat panel screens in service of software applications like 'Garage Band' and a hundred different i-somethings. He has monetized clicks, and his next bombshell is getting these same slack jawed audiences who find his style irresistable to put down good money in order to buy music videos from the iTunes Music Store. Yes. Now you can pay to watch Gorillaz. Just wait until U2 creates an iTunes only release of a music video that costs 2 bucks to see.
Part of me says that Joel Whatshisname is not representative of our young minds, and yet I know that kids are getting obese and that the very idea of a 'Man of Action' seems vaguely offensive to the new squirrel voiced sensibilities Gerard so aptly sees as neutered. And yet I am so acutely aware of the fact that so many 'persons' in our society are calling themselves 'guys'. I am not raising my son to be a guy, a homie, a dude, or some sort of male specimen. Can you imagine asking Joel 'what kind of man are you' and getting a straight answer? (double entendre not intended). No, you can not.
Although it was the point of Hewitt's discussion, this is not only pertinent to matters of responsible journalism and supporting troops, but to the very value of doing something substantial and getting the respect integrity deserves. It is more than simply disheartening that we live in an mediasphere populated by squirrels. Their daily mincing of words and garbling of concretes in spin is a direct threat to the level of discussion we citizens engage. If it is up to the blogs and the well connected radio personalities to fight the good fight, it won't be enough. We all need to reject the empty posturing of the Joel Whathisnames of the world, lest we lose sight of reality in a semiotic swamp.
Look at that Malcolm X video again. What you will hear is straight talk. We owe it to ourselves and our nation to bring about the change that will bring straight talk back to the center of our communications with each other. Until then, this is not America and we are not men and women.
There is nothing that gets me quite as riled up as when I read about surveys like this one over matters of Katrina. It almost doesn't matter what the subject is, but researchers are guilty of trumping up racial differences without any proof that they are racial differences. It is a constant source of annoyance.
I understand that there are certain things that people are drawn to say when they take a boring academic subject and need to sex it up for a press release. Hell, 'Half-Assed Demography' is a hot line. But you would think that there would be some detailed breakout of the survey results available to the general public. But no, it will go out like this and the radio talkshows will take it from there, using the imprimatur of the University to back up whatever crazy racial theories they are ready to spout off.
When it came to OJ, I wrote a poem. A stanza from that:
but in the courtroom race itself
as a flashpoint ito denied
outside the courtroom pollsters pushed
a classic racialist divide.
they said those that believe in simpson
patently are black
and whites of course think otherwise
(and yes, we've got their back)
few pundits dared to bridge the rift
no pollster cared to split the diff
by education, party line
geography, zodiac sign
religion, history of crime,
orientation or other kind
of simple demographic
not age nor sex but racial traffic
(if i must name one, dominick dunne)
I'm not Ward Connorly and I'm happy that people have the nerve to consider race, but if that's all we are given to consider, what the hell difference does it make? Race can't be changed.
Spence on NPR
Dr. Spence is getting broader coverage on NPR. Make sure that you catch the scoops at his new site.
Kitty Felde was at a local anniversary party for the Wilfandel Club over on the top of Adams Blvd. I haven't thought about that neighborhood in months. Shame on me.
First of all, still digging on the driving videos, here is what it looks like to ride a motorcycle 200 mph. This Hyabusa is burning up the road.
The sport is alive and well in British Columbia
I'm not going to say a lot here other than remark about how perfectly reasonable the old guy sounds from this distance. Particularly in this interview, I am struck by the extent to which Malcolm suggests that the cure for the black man is Religion. In fact, he doesn't strike me as political at all. Nothing quite underscores that as this clip, although who can tell what the full context might be.
It would be useful for me to get a good handle on the split between Albert Murray and Malcolm X.
Basically, it's outmoded and requires an overhaul.
My father was the adminstrative assistant to a Congressman on the House Intelligence Committee at the time FISA was enacted in 1978. I was and am familiar with the public and Congressional debate on FISA at that time. I was engaged in the private practice of law at that time and so able to follow the details.
My brief conversations with my father and his boss about FISA taught me that Congress was determined to head off future domestic abuses of what was then perceived as the NSA's rapidly growing eavesdropping ability. They didn't care at all about "foreign communications" - those into or out of the U.S. The Executive Branch was adamant about Congress not touching the NSA's surveillance of foreign communications, and Congress didn't care at all about that so the Executive Branch got its way there.
He has more at Volokh.
As Drezner suggests, the administration should throw this back to the Congress and get an updated statute. There's no way the President should be breaking the law, and this one is broken.
Note the keynote. Way to go Uncle Ray!
FIRST BIENNIAL SYMPOSIUM FOR HISTORICAL RESEARCH PATRONS: AMERICAN HISTORY, INC. (HRP)
Blacks in the West, 1100-1899
"Exploring the Black Frontier"
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.
2101 Louisiana Blvd NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110 U.S.A
June 14 - 17, 2006
Objectives for this symposium are to:
• Provide a forum for leading experts in the area of American history.
• Promote the exchange of information and resources.
• Obtain support for collecting and cataloging historical data.
• Increase national and international awareness of this chapter in our
• Encourage academics to pursue further study in this area.
Dr. Raymond C. Bowen, President Emeritus of LaGuardia Community College
His speech is entitled: "The Historical Significance of African American
We are thrilled that the Keynote Speaker for this event is Dr. Raymond C.
Bowen, President Emeritus of LaGuardia Community College speaking on the
topic: The Historical Significance of African American Education.
Admitting my bias, there are few things that are more impressive to me than seeing young black musicians pick up the Jazz tradition. It gives me a pure unadulterated sense of pride in our people and hope for the future. I come fully prepared to give props when I hear about new talent. But none of that prepared me for this twelve year old kid, even when he dedicated his performance to Tony Williams. So here's what I'm going to say today to everyone who is concerned that my lack of enthusiasm for Jamie Foxx betrays some kind of weird grudge or self-hate.
EVERYONE WHO HAS FORWARDED THE JAMIE FOXX EMAIL SHOULD ALSO PASS ON THIS LINK.
THAT'S REAL TALENT
If there is a conspiracy in Hollywood, it is to keep the idea of black clowns alive. But then again Hollywood is just doing what America wants it to do (except in the distribution business). But nothing can manipulate the pure genius of live instruments being played in classic styles. There's a big difference between star power and talent. There can be no denying Jamie Foxx's star power. He's getting the kind of exposure that a generation of black entertainers have broken barriers to achieve and he demonstrates that we're getting our cultural thing in order with less focus on race, more or less. However in terms of pure talent... well, he ain't got greatness in him, whereas this kid Royster is just oozing greatness.
Now the question about the future of black entertainment. Does black star power do right by black talent?
A few months ago, Antoinette Pole from Brown University interviewed me and several other black bloggers. She presents her results.
This paper explores the role of black bloggers in the blogosphere. Among the top political blogs, blogging has primarily been undertaken by white men, coined by Chris Nolan as the "Big Boys Club." This research assesses how bloggers of color use their blogs for purposes related to politics, and it investigates whether the blogosphere facilitates political participation among black bloggers.
The data for this paper are based on in-depth interviews with 20 black bloggers conducted in November 2005. Primarily exploratory, this paper examines the issues and topics discussed by bloggers of color, and whether and how bloggers are using their blogs to engage in political participation. In addition this research attempts to assess whether black bloggers face discrimination in the blogosphere. Findings from this research suggest that black bloggers do in fact use their blogs to encourage their readers to engage in various forms of political participation. Finally, the data also show that bloggers reported that they do not feel discriminated against or excluded by other bloggers.
Her focus on the politics of blogging and the blogging of politics tests three hypotheses:
Black bloggers will blog about issues related specifically to race. Black bloggers will use their blogs to engage in and to encourage their readers to engage in various forms of political participation that occur both online and offline. Black bloggers will report that they face discrimination by other bloggers.
The answer to 1 is yes, but how much? Indeed how much is too much or not enough. It's enough that we do, I suppose, but that doesn't necessarily mean that appropriate attention is paid. I think anyone who blogged primarily about race relations would go bonkers after three years if they weren't already bonkers. I say this from personal experience.
The answer to number two isn't a surprising yes, but one that after a moment's consideration, you'd expect. But I understand that this is the kind of baseline writing that must be done in order to build up a body of academic work.
The third answer is no. Black bloggers are, by and large, masters of their own domain. How black online writers got hounded out of public internet spaces was a function of the fact that they were squatters like everyone else. But when you control your discussion space, you can squelch the noise.
Dr. Pole presented her paper in India in December. You can read the whole thing: HERE. Of course you should. She makes a lot of good observations that are definitely worth considering.
In case you wondered.
Sinbad, Omar Epps, Cedric, Sanaa Lathan, Will Smith, Chris Rock, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Jada Pinkett, Vivica Fox, Blair Underwood, Queen Latifa, Orlando Jones, Eddie Griffin, Bernie Mac, Vanessa Williams, Marc John Jefferies, Damon Wayans, Steve White, Wendell Pierce, Mykelti Williamson, Ice Cube, André Benjamin, Mos Def, N'Bushe Wright, Wesley Snipes, CCH Pounder, Jesse Martin, Eriq LaSalle, Ving Rhames, Taye Diggs, LL Cool J, Martin Lawrence, Regina King, Angela Bassett, Dennis Haysbert, Alfre Woodard, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeffrey Wright, Lynne Thigpen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Bill Duke, Andre Braugher, Larry Fishburn, Seal, Harold Perrineau, Chris Tucker, John Witherspoon, Mekhi Phifer, Cuba Gooding Jr & Damon Wayons.
And people I put at around the same (marginal) level of talent.
Gabrielle Union, Nick Cannon, Tyrese Gibson, Bill Bellamy, Larenz Tate, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Tisha Campbell, Michael Beach, Wood Harris, Erika Badu,Theresa Randle, Marlon Wayans.
Who is he better than? Just about everybody else, but chances are his fans know more of those people than I do. But off the top of my head? Tiny Lister, Joe Torry, Mike Epps, Faizon Love, Lela Rochon, Charlie Murphy, Kid & Play...
Sometimes spontaneity is not a good idea. I spontaneously shaved my face this Sunday. I was at home, I had nothing to do, the shaver was in my hand and I dared myself. And without a second thought I proceded to scare my children to death. I have never even taken a DMV picture this hideous.
I turns out that I haven't been baldfaced since about 1992, and it is a fact that none of my kids have seen me without a beard or moustache of some sort. And although I rather like the shocking effect that I have been able to produce both at home and at work, I'm man enough to say that this was a terrible mistake. At my very best with this look, I look like James Earl Jones or a very, very conservative and frumpy old minister. But the rest of the time, I look like an escaped mental patient or worse, at least that's what the camera says.
I'm rather indifferent this week because I feel pretty much like this inside. Severe. Frustrated. Capable of evil. But I'm going to grow it back and be my usual handsome self within a week or so. If you bump into me between now and then try to remember the sweet gentle person I actually am. Or, on second thought, whack me upside the head with some object of high specific gravity.
I couldn't resist putting this picture up, because since I sat on my glasses and they are slightly twisted, it makes them look like prison-issue and it makes me look very twisted. I just took out the color on this but I could have given it a bit of a nauseous institutional green tinge. But I had better leave well enough alone. It's not as though I have too much time on my hands. I'm just wasting it. By the way, I have given up french fries and potato chips for the new year and I started doing jumping jacks again. Part of this (now I remember) was that I was embracing change. I mean if UT can beat USC, anything is possible.
And now back to our regularly scheduled cynical cartoons.
Pops is always full of surprises. The one he dropped on me today was that he's known Terrence Roberts of the Little Rock Nine for many years. It turns out that he was one of the members of the Writer's Workshop in Pops' Institute for Black Studies back in the day. Well, of course Dr. Roberts has done well for himself and others. In recognition of same he will be honored next month.
In observance of Black History Month, Antioch University will pay tribute to our very own national hero, Dr. Terrence Roberts Dr. Roberts will be honored for his heroism as one of “The Little Rock Nine” who confronted the Arkansas National Guard and helped desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Refreshments & Live Jazz
Reminiscences by Terry Roberts and recognition by the community
A Drum Circle Honoring Dr. Roberts
(Your participation is encouraged. Drums will be provided or you can bring your own.)
Antioch University Los Angeles Room A1000
More info to come!
For address and driving directions, visit our website at www.antiochla.edu
There it is.
I'm shutting down Vision Circle after a good run and there have been a thousand lessons learned. One of the most important is what's on my mind right now, and had a lot to do with my conclusion in converting Cobb to the new format:
I will however be less likely to get caught up in the struggle at the blogospheric level as I am convinced there is no political forum of substance, depth and popularity here which is capable of changing the dynamic of what goes on in the greater public. I have seen the black blogosphere and it is what it is. But it is hardly the catalyst for change I might have imagined, nor is there any indication to me that may be in the offing. Practically speaking that means I will spend a whole lot less effort making writing things 'for posterity'.
The blogosphere is about aggregation, not about change. It's about fleshing out ideas, but people still go where they go. And very few people wander out of their own comfort zones. The blogosphere is passive. Transformative politics needs to be active. The surprise of Vision Circle comes from Ed Brown, the last pundit standing. As a late-comer to the game, he was constantly reminding all sides that we were taking our arguments a bit to far - that mischaracterization of left and right dominated discussions, truces were more likely than synergies and blackfolks persist anyway.
It is that last note that strikes me today in consideration of my first viewing of The Delany Sisters: Having Our Say. I watched it with my 10 year old daughter this morning and what I found that the film's great strength was it's simplicity. It was all about people just living their lives in hard times and the hard times were defined by a society that motivated individual whitefolks towards injustice. Like a hundred bee stings and several roundhouse kicks to the dome, a lifetime suffering from white racism could rip up anyone's character. But not those Delanys. They had an inner strength. But that inner strength was not based on politics. There was nothing in their politics that was extraordinary, and quite frankly nothing in their lives was against the standards I would hold for my daughters, or of similar people at the time. Yet they stand as a shining example, simply because out of all we consume from media, their story is exceptional. That says more about our media diet than anything.
I am hesitant to say so, but I've known it to be a fact that people who tend to expect the most from politics often have the least from family. This is a common sense observation and it informs some of the Conservative criticism of the Welfare State. We should not, I reiterate for the boringeth time, depend upon politics or the government to give us personal gratification or bolster our self-esteem. We seem to have lost, in reaching out with identity politics, a grasp of the essence of citizenship which primarily involves sacrifice for the common good. Instead we have invoked a sort of Hobbesean deal from those who have for the benefits of the have-nots. That's fundamentally a decent idea, but not when the have-nots are getting a state-sponsored identity out of the deal. That kind of care and feeding requires family. Family is what's going to save you from the slings and arrows.
So going back just a few months to the most recent and glaring example, our friend of great distinction Kanye West banged the needy drum once more with his observation that 'President Bush doesn't care about black people'. Is politics supposed to care? Politics is supposed to be a negotiated settlement, but there is not an active negotiation for black politics of West's sort going on. That's why it's episodic. When Jesse Jackson shows up to say the same thing at every photo op, this is a symptom of the kind of demand created for the politics of caring. But the basic contradiction is that politics is not an avenue for showing love. I think a bit too much of that thing which is popular black politics is looking for love in all the wrong places.
I am a Republican because I expect my politics to reflect my class interests, and I am not like a limousine liberal. I recall a poster in an episode of the Simpsons that showed a man putting a necklace around a woman's neck. The caption read "Diamonds: Because money equals love". I'm not on either side of that false equation.
"The definition of a monster according to Aristotle is too much substance and not enough form," Lévy said. "That's exactly the case of Los Angeles. It may be a European point of view. I say it with all the prudence of someone perhaps with a traditional idea of a city…. I don't say I hated it, but I was lost. 'Lost in Translation.' Perhaps it's the city of the future. But without me."
This is probably the quote that makes this the most mailed article about LA in the LAT. A Frenchman trying to describe Los Angeles. Hmm. Maybe that's why we don't have many francophones here. Of all the zillion ethnics we do have, I cannot remember there being any significant French anywhere. How odd.
So I got the following in the mail off the Kwaku Network. For those of you who don't know, the Kwaku Network is the spontaneous unofficial underground communications network for blackfolks on the email. Don't say I told you so, because it doesn't really exist. Smile and wave boys, smile and wave.
NBC is not doing any marketing & publicity on Jamie's Music Special on NBC because he stood his ground and didn't have any white guest (performers) to perform with as they requested. To make it even worse he had two controversial guest stars that do not fit the "NBC profile" on his show. Tune in to find out who they are. They are purposely putting his show up against the second week of American Idol in hopes that it will fail. This will give them the excuse to never give another black person a music special because "it doesn't work". Let's show them that it does work, and that we support each other. Tivo Idol, and watch Jamie. I saw the taping, it is a good show.
J Foxx making history on NBC. This is the first time NBC has ever aired an entire young urban African American cast on music special. We need to show support. This was not an easy sell for Jamie and he stood his ground to make it happen the way he saw fit.
JAMIE FOXX MUSIC SPECIAL WILL BROADCAST WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25TH @ 8:00PM
PST on NBC. PLEASE MAKE IT A POINT WATCH! There will be surprise special
For what it's worth I have only been impressed with Jamie Foxx in one dimension, which is that he can sing. He's only done one movie role that I thought was worthwhile and that was in "On Any Sunday". It should be said that I didn't see 'Ray', so what do I know. But Collateral didn't impress me at all. All he did was play an ordinary scared guy, which must... well, let me not get into it BUT, I would say that the only thing special about Foxx's work in Collateral was that he defied the trend of vulgar hiphop idiocy we have come to expect from entertainers of his age and hue. But it appears that he intends to make up for that on Wednesday.
Call me Danny Glover, but I'm getting too old for this shit. Jamie Foxx isn't making history, he's making noise, which on a good day might be called entertainment. Why oh why did I ever stop being a snob?
For what it's worth, I could have been a famous zillionaire by now. That is because I was the network admin for what once was one of the largest LANs in the world, back in 1986. It was the Xerox ESXC16 domain and it consisted of over 150 D-Machines. I cannot remember the exact details, but it was one of the top domains in Xerox outside of PARC, OSBU-South, OSBU-North and Rochester128. We had over 900MB of file service, both a PUP Gateway and a full set of XNS servers and services including about 11 print servers, a Clearinghouse and a couple of mail servers. We had one of the first fiber optic ethernet hubs on the planet. It was the bomb.
Over the weekend, I happened on to some interesting documents on and off the web. It has gotten me really jazzed about some Xerox nostalgia. Just this morning, I hit the mother lode. It turns out that some cat named Don Woodward has created a virtual D-Machine for Win32. On my very desktop, right now, is a copy of Dawn and a Tajo 15.3 environment. Is this mind-blowing or what?
Every year I go through a period of depression thinking about what might have been had Xerox been successful in marketing and selling the networks, operating systems, workstations and printers that they developed. And then thinking about it today, I wonder how little it might have meant considering the death of computing kings like NCR, DEC and Silicon Graphics, not to mention Apollo, Cray, and Symbolics. Still, a small but a mighty big word is 'if'. Then I wake up and realize that there were people there at Xerox who said that there was no future in email - that business people would never trust it and managers would never learn to type.
But while I'm still nostalgic, I'm going to bring up some historical stuff that I recall here and over at Cubegeek (which I've been neglecting). Stay tuned.
There was always something fishy about the lack of evidence in the murder of Biggie Smalls. A federal judge agrees:
In a stinging rebuke, a federal judge Friday ordered the city of Los Angeles to pay $1.1 million in attorney fees and costs to the family of slain rap artist Notorious B.I.G. as sanctions for intentionally withholding evidence.
U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper declared a mistrial last summer in the family's civil lawsuit after finding that a Los Angeles Police Department detective hid statements linking the killing to rogue LAPD Officers David A. Mack and Rafael Perez, a central figure in the Rampart police scandal.
At the time, city attorneys protested that the statements had come from a jailhouse informant seeking special treatment, and robbery-homicide Det. Steven Katz insisted that he had overlooked the transcript of the remarks in his desk.
But Cooper ruled that Katz and perhaps others had deliberately concealed the information and said it could have bolstered the family's contention that Mack was involved in the killing.
I've been fascinated by Google Video for a couple weeks now. Finding stuff isn't so difficult, but I still am getting a handle on what to expect and how the service might be improved. It's certain to get better as time goes by, but it's already very interesting.
At first, this guy looks like a total dweeb, and then you realize after a few minutes how little you've done with your own fingers. My guess is that he's either a magician or a pianist. I think that's pretty awe inspiring - gives a new level of respectability to the phrase 'playing with yourself'.
The very first Google Video I watched was of Dick Wolf. I watched each of the pieces of the interview and I learned more about television and the entertainment business in those few hours than in a lifetime before.
One of my favorite shows on BBC is Top Gear, and it turns out that a good number of their shows are online at Google Video. Since I'm something of a gearhead it's with great pleasure that I can follow them in a kind of trans-media fashion. For example, there's the Wikipedia entry on them. Then there are GVs of some of their most interesting cars, like the Pagani Zonda F or the Murcielago.
Roy Blunt tries a Jedi Mind Trick and it pisses off Dale Franks to the height of pisstivity. It pisses me off too. I've seen this kind of behavior before and I wonder how widespread it is. It's basically the 'we're all dogs here and I'm the lead dog' attitude. I don't know how it is that some people get it in their heads that America is a country of butt sniffers.
Rich Lowry understands that Blunt has this arrogant attitude because he's already got the votes, or so it appears. What is going unstated here is that there are more than a few Republicans who are not going to be appeased by a simple flick of an A-B switch. Some of us, including me, are thinking about changes just shy of Gingrichian proportions.
As somebody who has been sick and tired of Tom DeLay from day one, I can't hear enough nervousness and trepidation in the complacent Congress. These guys have had a six year holiday from building real consensus and listening to constituencies with addresses outside of the Beltway. Why? Because DeLay would hardball everything to the get the slimmest majority and GW Bush never showed any cajones to make Compassionate Conservatism work domestically - except when he had bully pulpits to grace. All well, but not good.
Roy Blunt better show some other colors because from this angle he looks like more of the same.
After Jeffrey Hart says this:
Religion is an integral part of the distinctive identity of Western civilization. But this recognition is only manifest in traditional forms of religion--repeat, traditional, or intellectually and institutionally developed, not dependent upon spasms of emotion. This meant religion in its magisterial forms.
What the time calls for is a recovery of the great structure of metaphysics, with the Resurrection as its fulcrum, established as history, and interpreted through Greek philosophy. The representation of this metaphysics through language and ritual took 10 centuries to perfect. The dome of the sacred, however, has been shattered. The act of reconstruction will require a large effort of intellect, which is never populist and certainly not grounded on emotion, an unreliable guide. Religion not based on a structure of thought always exhibits wild inspired swings and fades in a generation or two.
It's hard to know what to say. That is perhaps because I have already spoken about my concern about gay activists' secular effect on the clargy and spasms of emotion seems to have been the subtext. I must have absorbed those sentences elsewhere in some other context. And I am in agreement.
Yet his idea of a completely rebuilt metaphysics. Yikes. Is that the revolution of Conservative thought given by the fellow over at Body Parts? Hard to reckon. And what of this Ressurection? Is that the Ressurection of Christ? Must the empire be Holy?
The Conservative Mind, it seems to me must have some understanding and recognition of change and improvement and the hard slog back up when chaos rules. What will it cost to reform what we know can be broken so easily? More specifically, what is it that draws us to the East, and how is it that films like 'Hero' so completely outshine films like 'Munich'. We have lost our spiritual Long Now and our sense of eternal beauty, nothing quite speaks to that as our failures in Architecture and our slavery to fashion. Our appropriation of the 'timeless' is a semiotic farce. It's a Ralph Lauren sticker, a Martha Stewart band-aid. And it's destroying the Hamptons, by the way. Those who know, know what I mean.
I think there is certainly within me a powerful sense of dimunitive status when confronted with the austere simplicy of certain Asian aesthetics and philologies. I am embarrassed by the West's need for Feminism in its evolution. I am struck by the high-falutin' mumbo jumbo of psychoanalysis. We have mastered so much externally, and yet the Western soul is restless. It is restless because it hasn't yet crafted a home appropriate to its accomplishment. Are we just starting to understand the clues and truly integrating what we lack, or will it be a reduction?
Those who call themselves conservative, namely Social Conservatives, are having nothing to do with a proper multiculturalism, which is actually a middling step towards global-ready diplomacy. And I think Hart nails it when he speaks of hard utopias. That is what Social Conservatives want.
I think that Religion needs to be Catholic in the best sense of that word. There needs to be a new Cathedral built that evolves ever so slightly the wisdom of centuries - that recognizes the usefulness of wide open doors at the front and precise narrow passages at the back. I am hoping for an evolution of thought in the West, although I suspect it may have already taken place in rare places I have yet to find. What I hope to find is a disciplined rationality that does away with silly dichotomies and recognizes an ecology of thought. We should be able to see in Religion a true essence of the timeless and the transcendant, and we should build upon that wisdom of ages while we continue to reach for the stars...
OK, do I sound more like Deepak Chopra or Carl Sagan? Enough.
It started with CalTechGirl.
Four jobs you've had in your life:
Lifeguard. Window Washer. Parade Boy. Cookie Baker.
Four movies you could [and do] watch over and over:
The Fifth Element, Heat, Ronin, Ran
Four places you've lived:
Brooklyn. Boston. Atlanta. South Pasadena.
Four fiction books you can't live without:
I never re-read fiction. Ever. Well, except for Einstein's Monsters by Martin Amis and Parliament of Whores by PJ ORourke, and Watchmen by Alan Moore and.. Cryptonomicon.
Four non-fiction books you consider essential:
Oxford Concise Dictionary. Prentice Hall Guide to English Literature. An Incomplete Education (Jones & Wilson). Norton Anthology of African American Literature.
Four TV shows you love to watch:
The Sheild, 24, Hustle, MXC (bonus 4 favorite shows of all time: Hill Street Blues, Moonlighting, Speed Racer, Felix the Cat)
Four places you've been on vacation:
Puerto Vallarta. Sydney. Kauai. Martha's Vineyard.
Four websitesblogs you visit daily:
Drezner. Baldilocks. Booker Rising. Dean's World.
Four of your favorite foods:
Eggs Benedict, Unagi, Soft Shell Crab, Cherry Garcia Ice Cream
Four places you'd rather be:
Polynesia. The Midlands (UK). Beijing. an alternate universe where SC won the Rose Bowl...
Four albums you can't live without:
Exodus (Marley). Beyond Words (McFerrin). Hallucination Engine (Material). Mondschein (Barenboim (Beethoven))
Rocketboom: Kitschy Synergy
There's nothing that exemplifies brain spew so much as the five minutes of funk that is Rocketboom. Sometimes they forget the brain. No flies on host Amanda Cogndon though since she's prime geek babeage. Next to Morgan Webb she's probably the geek's hottest hottie - not that I would know because I'm certainly not speaking as a geek now. Quite frankly I prefer the babes of Mythbusters.
Where was I? Oh yeah. Check it out. It's cheesy fun, sometimes. BTW, you can get it on Tivo too. It makes for extra cheesy television. So what is it? It's a video blog (I'm not Eastern European so 'vlog' comes off my tongue all wrong - don't ask me to say it.)
Legendary soul singer Wilson Pickett died of a heart attack today in Virginia at the age of sixty-four.
The singer, who earned the nickname "Wicked Pickett" due to his fiery vocals and masculine persona, was best known for such high-energy soul hits as "In the Midnight Hour," "Mustang Sally" and "Land of 1000 Dances." As a performer and interpreter, Pickett was generally considered to be the equal of such great soul men as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.
Yes, I always laugh when people my age complain about their college-age and teenage kids by talking about how much better we were. I laugh because I have absolutely no idea what my generation did to enrich our democracy. What movement have we been identified with that forced our elders to keep their promises…that challenged their failures or built upon their successes? For me, we dropped the ball after the Civil Rights Movement. We entered a period of complacency and closed our eyes to the very public corruption of our democracy.
As we have seen our money squandered and stolen, our civic rights trampled, and the politics of polarity become the order of the day, we have held absolutely no one accountable. From us, you inherit an abiding helplessness.
If you realize the unfortunate consequences of inaction, hopefully you will understand even more the importance of holding both your elders and your peers accountable when it comes to the rebuilding of New Orleans. Stay up on the facts.
The problem with me is that I've done roller disco at Venice Beach and breakdancing at an awards banquet. The rest of you might be more easily embarrassed by con-men and blackmailers. So if you think you may have surfed some porn and that Google might know something about it, you might want to anonymize your Google cookie. I find it difficult to give a gnat's gonads, but it might just be that I'm not paranoid in the proper dimensions. I worry a lot more about people finding out that I might have bad breath.
Those of you on the inside of the bubble may have already been there, and I may adjust my habits in due time. In the meantime here's the link.
Joe Hicks challenged Colin Powell and Condi Rice to give up their support for Affirmative Action. I'm not sure either Colin or Condi were listening, but I sure heard him. The angle he took was very clever in that it actually made sense to me.
What he said was that as the University of Michigan case was decided in favor of an Affirmative Action program, the deciding vote of Justice OConner was worth noting. She expressed a desire for colorblindness as policy but said that the school and the nation wasn't ready for it. Maybe in 25 years we might be ready for that ethos. Joe said, if it's a good idea now, why wait?
Is institutional colorblindness a good idea in principle? Yeah. It is. Does it therefore make sense to apply that principle if you are the president of the US? How important is it that you do right and be right despite what the unwashed millions think? This is a very compelling argument and I buy it, except I feel funny when I do.
Let's go to the quibbles for a moment then circle back. First off, there is a such thing as reasonable Affirmative Action. It's called Balanced Workforce. It's legal, it's sensible and it no more discriminates negatively than any hiring or promotion scheme. It makes sense to implement under certain circumstances and is, as far as I can see, the only self-limiting scheme of racial integration.
But Balanced Workforce was a form of Affirmative Action in that it mandated hires and firings according to numbers. It has given way to a softer form of integrative priority known as Diversity Management. I happen to think that diversity in all of its manifestations is squishy and full of contradiction, but there is something to be said about the evolution of managment ethics in American corporations. I really can't speak to a broad number of industries, but my experience with managers today is that they are a great deal more respectful and capable of managing an ethnically diverse workforce in 2005 than they were in 1985. This is due, from my perspective, in no small measure by the real experience of black women being the boss of white men, etc, etc. People recognized that companies would not fall apart, that they could even thrive and become more profitable when broadening the scope of markets and management.
Affirmative Action was the crowbar.
When it comes to a very specific and narrowly tailored vision and version of Affirmative Action, programs of racial preference can be very effective and Constitutional. I think this is the Supreme Court's vision and I think, without quibbling, this vision is appropriate. But when I quibble, I do so in the context of anti-racism and the progress of blackfolks in America. Those are huge and complex subjects which are far from resolution. In that context, hardball zero-sum Affirmative Action is both a drop in the bucket and a kick in the pants, which is to say it is bracing remedy that only fixes a small fraction of the problem of race in America. If I wanted Affirmative Action to be the singular government remedy to racial inequity it would be an onerous burden on both the government and the people. That is a burden Affirmative Action cannot bear. Our fundamental guarantee of racial equality is that the government make no distinction on the basis of race.
It is in the matter of the Constitutional principle of colorblindness from which my funny feelings arise. Because people don't read the Constitution. People read the Bible. People read the newspaper. People read blogs and magazines and cereal boxes more than they read the Constitution. The Constitution is right and the people stay wrong, and there are no racial cops who are adjudicating the American mind on race. Yes the EEOC is handling the ugliest cases (at what pace nobody knows), but that's out of the spotlight. So what is desired, I believe, by all Americans is a colorblind legal ethic and an activist politics that fights racism.
So here's where the quibbles arise again. Where exactly should matters fo fighting racism be adjudicated? If you have a colorblind Constitution and anti-racist politics, how does that work out if racial preferences are Constitutional? That's where we are right now. And in a way it's good that all of the racial traffic is happening in society more than in law and legislation. We have a Jesse Jackson not elected because he doesn't need to be running an administration.
While there is still wide interpretation over what the effects of drastically diminished racism might be in this country, I tend to beleive less and less in the exceptionalism of the Civil Rights Movement within the context of American history. I say that it was inevitable and that it has run its course. Furthermore I say that there is no turning back. There only remains some measure of political consensus on the declining significance of race. I predict that this will be established by the maturing and growing black middle class, and once done will be done for good. We won't be white, we'll be American and suddenly everybody will see.
My latest crazy idea is VPN-based P2P. It looks like Hamachi may be the way to go. There are also some other possibilities.
My latest crazy idea is VPN-based P2P. It looks like Hamachi may be the way to go. There are also some other possibilities.
Nice going Ray. Any time you suggest that whitefolks won't be in charge, you're going to get killed in the media. It doesn't matter what you really meant. Join Bill Bennett.
"I don't care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day," he said. "This city will be a majority African-American city. It's the way God wants it to be."
After the statement, he insisted he wasn't being divisive.
"How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about," he said. "New Orleans was a chocolate city before Katrina. It is going to be a chocolate city after. How is that divisive? It is white and black working together, coming together and making something special."
He's still my boy.
Here follows a paragraph from Michael Eric Dyson's upcoming book on Katrina, 'Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina And the Color of Disaster'. Even the title is annoying, but dig this:
The black-white racial paradigm was also pressured by an enduring question among social analysts that was revived in the face of Katrina: is it race or class that determines the fate of poor blacks? Critics came down on either side during the crisis, but in this case, that might equate to six in one hand, half a dozen in the other. It is true that class is often overlooked to explain social reality. Ironically, it is often a subject broached by the acid conservatives who want to avoid confronting race, and who become raging parodies of Marxists in the bargain. They are only concerned about class to deflect race; they have little interest in unpacking the dynamics of class or engaging its deforming influence in the social scene. In this instance, race becomes a marker for class, a proxy, blurring and bending the boundaries that segregate them.
Aside from being a strawman argument, it's also insulting to black conservatives, and shows the basic flaw in Dyson's approach - that we're all crazy and in denial. I'm sure I'm going to have to track through a painful reading if the book blows up, but I'm trying not to. I have to admit that I haven't been by P6 to see the reaction (if any) to this colorizing of the disaster, but I'm very interested to see how new or relevant the complaint might be other than you generic 'America catches cold, blacks get the flu' argument. That is because the de-blackification that is happening to New Orleans (and evidently out of Nagin's hide - more on that later) is happening precisely because the social difference and distance between displaced blacks from NO and their recieving communities is minimal.
So to state the obvious, it is both race and class that determines the fate of poor blacks. But poor blacks are more like poor whites than they are like middle-class blacks, which is why Cosby is so electrifying at all. America is really catching on to this because of the reality of middle class black social capital. Dyson will continue to rant that the rest of the world isn't paying enough attention to color, his problem is that we actually have a better perspective.
I recently watched 'Millions', an enjoyable little tale about the naivete of schoolboy dreams and an interesting exercise into the unfulfilled fantasies of many an 'adult' mind.
The cute and clever protagonist of this tale is a young English boy of about 9 who, with his 12 year old brother were recently orphaned. They move, at the beginning of the film, with their father from old row houses to a new suburban subdivision somewhere in Britain. This takes place just before the clock runs out on the British Pound Sterling and the UK is expected to convert to the Euro (which never actually happened if I remember correctly). A train taking the old bills for destuction is robbed and a Nike bag with a quarter million pounds is dropped in the lap of this young boy whilst in the midst of summoning saints in his daydreams. His conversations with a dozen Christian martyrs during the story underlines his morality and fascination with death in light of the creation of the newest saint, his mum. While taking their advice (his own), he decides to give away as much money as he can to the poor.
For most of the film, his father and all other adults are completely out of the loop, and his brother as co-conspirator is preternaturally practical and stealthy about their newly found largesse. He goes about bribing his middle-school chums and trying to speculate in the real-estate market as his younger brother gets more and more generous, threatening to expose the whole deal.
It's a great premise which doesn't quite go to logical enough extremes to satisfy my inner philosopher, but enough to prod me beyond the simplistic equations of charity being good and materialism being bad. Fzample. The little philanthropist is rather blunt about his intentions to give away dough, and essentially goes around asking people whether or not they are poor. He immediately tells them that he's got moola for them. The older brother manages to keep their wealth on the down low. And so in his greatest fib he manages to convince the headmaster and all adults concerned that the thousand quid dropped into an African relief bucket was stolen from neighbors. That only worked because these were the very same neighbors they had just previously stuffed with a mailbox full of cash.
As an aside, I'm pretty enthused by British productions these days, and I've set the Tivo to hook me up with the latest AMC series called 'Hustle'. God help me, I'm turning into a stereotypical Anglophile.
At any rate, the bad guy in the film is the only one who sees through the artifice of the boys. He stole the money first. With the boy's father they set up an interesting foursome. One boy of pure heart who wants to become a saint by giving away money he didn't earn. One boy of craft and deceipt who wants to increase the pile of money through investment and buy influence over others. One man who stole the money and is trying to steal it back without alerting anyone. One man who discovers the money and feels it is owed to him because of hard knocks.
That pretty much covers it all, eh?
The story clearly takes the side of the boy whose ambition, to make peace with his mother's death, is beyond any such earthly concerns as the material well being of those directly around him. And as with much of the liberal attitude towards self-aggrandizement, the foil of Africa is amply used to demonstrate unadulterated love for mankind. I cannot be sure if the filmmaker was aware of the striking illustration made by the use of the device, but I sure did pick up on the idea. And so what I've taken from this flick, along with the satisfaction of an evening well spent on family entertainment, is some of the sheer folly of philanthropy. I still love the idea of being the Kung Fu Santa Claus, but I'll need to take the kink in the idea some straightening distance before I'll be as happy about it.