I have determined the necessity of war. Next I will start studying Napoleon. This is because I want to understand what it takes to wipe the slate clean and establish a new and clear set of laws in the wake of an overturning of the old and sclerotic. I seek to find out the prospects of a new sort of revolution and then will assess the possibilities of these coming from the post-hacked and assymetrically destabilized West.
Where to start?
He sat at the table next to us, looking to be about 56 years of age, with a new Canon digital camera on a bold black strap. His hair was thinning but not quite grey. He was of average height and wore a pale yellow polo shirt and sneakers. He didn't belong at this California beach, and he kept staring at the viewfinder.
You could see his cell phone in its belt holster. It was the most noticeable thing about his hips. He was armed with the technology. But he did not aim and shoot. He did not send or receive any signals. He merely an air of hesitant confidence, like the driver of a new 1967 Cadillac who had never had power steering before. Empowered.
I look at men and women and imagine their histories, especially the older men and women.
The Asian woman in dark blue shorts walked talking with her Caucasian friends. Her legs were stout but beginning to lose their firmness, and her bangs were now more grey than black. She canted her head at an angle that seemed puzzled that they weren't hearing what she was saying. She was a fifth wheel on an automobile that had lost its pizazz which only made her more their equal than she ever was in her younger days.
The multi-million dollar houses along the Strand have a studied kind of clutter. The grizzled old man who sits staring could be the father of the owner although he looks like he was just rescued from the gutter and hastily cleaned up. There was resignation in his eyes barely following the joggers. He could be jaded beyond the ordinary world of the beachcombers, or he could be hung over, or he could be the owner. There's no guarantee that a conversation with him would yield any greater knowledge of anything. He was just one of the few privileged to be welcomed on the deck, and he didn't have any reason to say anything more. He was there, everyone else was not.
Everyone rests on laurels. Sometimes it's difficult to belive they are earned by acts of greatness this foggy morning on the beach. Everyone has their little crutch that gets them near to the sand. The tourists had their ITALIA shirts and colors. The girls volleyball team had their engagement. The Six Man teams had their warmup exercises started and stopped by the command of a shaken cowbell.
It's a free country and so many people are literate and diversely employed that there is no discernable order in their social intercourse. We seem impossible to judge.
Starting back in the late 80s when I decided to allow my intellectual curiosity rule my life rather than settle into the square pegs of upscale, buppie, Talented Tenth modalities, I had already formed some reckoning of the class differences between African Americans. I was quite comfortable back in the day dealing with five classes. It was solidified by my recognition of Oliver & Shapiro and Massey & Denton.
I was fascinated with the 'geography is destiny' theory of American Apartheid, and I must say that it still holds significant sway on both the positive and negative side. You are where you live, goes the wit. And so since I had begun to consider myself a traveler of some experience in my early 30s, I considered at length where I would ultimately want to live and where, not coincidently were the best places for black Americans to live. According to my simple theories, convinced that there was not one 'black community', I split African America into five classes: projects, ghetto, hood, burb and hill. With data from the 2000 census, I started slicing and dicing the population and came up with my own ranking.
It had always been important to me to be able to say something credible about black Americans that I felt had not been said, or said loudly or properly enough. But I have not been disabused of that concern, and it is because I have recognized over many years of dabbling among the chatting classes, that nobody is disciplining the troops. So splitting matters even further, there are those who believe in race and those who don't. Among the believers there are politically correct and incorrect factions, afrocentrics, race traitors, multiculturalists and racial realists to name a few who are compelled to always color their moral pronouncements, if for not their own justifications than to explain to those they say must be properly schooled. And split mostly on the side of the believers are those who explain race in terms of culture. I say split to give some benefit of a doubt, but I've never heard of anyone who give credence to 'black culture' whose explanations don't center around the very same stereotypes as the most vulgar understanding of black race. IE, blacks run fast because ______. Insert 'cultural' explanation. Nobody cares a whit to explain the black cultural proclivities toward either side of the Bacon vs Shakespeare controversy, but there's always someone making apologies for Basketball. In other words, black cultural commentary rarely goes beyond the immediate concerns of race.
This is a sad state of affairs that I think owes a great deal to the pretenses of hiphop and the commercial success of the New Jacks, ever in opposition to the great orations of Bill Cosby on the one hand, and the prating of that unctuous class of post-modern academics and their vertiginous phrases. All of them going after the singular prize of 'the' black voice which must ever respond to the ironic and idiotic call: "What do you people want?" It comes as no surprise that nobody knows, because those involved in this cultural production like to keep matters open. Accordingly there is the eternal internal question "Who are we as a people?" and its corrolary "What should we be demanding, as a people?" That is the core existential dilemma, neatly wrapped around a DuBoisian duality, hidden inside a Woodsonian re-education , expressed quixotically in an MLK oration. The best answer, of course is to question the question. But that only works for perhaps the smallest fraction of all, those who put no stake in race whatsoever.
It is perhaps ironic that my energy spent in pursuit of being such a vessel of the proper black American cultural voice has so disabused me of having any stake in race. On the one hand, to believe in culture, or to believe in religion, or to believe in any such thing people have reduced their worldviews to over history should squeeze racial reasoning out. One can only conclude that, for all of this cultural babble, that the subject remains racial is the enduring testament to racism in America. Americans are always inventing neologisms for the same tired dynamic while claiming to be beyond race, while admiting that most everyone else is more racist than they. Even this essay falls into that category, technically if not spiritually speaking. But if one truly does find racial reasoning being squeezed out, (which I don't care to claim, having really nothing to try to prove there) one finds a curious lack of attention. In other words, the solution to race has always been to abandon it without any effort to remap it. Americans however, want the impossible which is to redefine race and then somehow claim a racial victory over racism. In the end some race is always on the hook.
There should always be some fraction of all of us Americans, by the mere fact of any understanding of race that we are bound to it. But for me, to look at class is the simplest solution. Naturally this position betrays my interpretation of the predations of racism. What I would loathe the most of racism would be its ability to eliminate all class distinction between myself and those I would be associated with by race. Or put simply that any class distinction I aspire to in the larger society would always be qualified by my race. Yet this is the same bucket I volunteered into and projected onto black America with my five layer cake of projects, ghetto, hood, burb and hill. I should say that there is a Talented Tenth prerogative buried in that which elevates in class among blacks that is not considered significant to class in the larger society, ie the distictions between black fraternities or black undergraduate schools. What difference does it make to be called King of the Jews in the eyes of crucifying Romans? It matters if you really care to be King of the Jews, and enforce that standing with Jews. So it matters what kind of black American you are if you intend to stand tall as one projecting such status over the rest, as I said - a Talented Tenth prerogative.
I can recall back in the days when Ron Brown was considered by all to be the most likely first black American President. I went to a conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation where he was the keynote. Around that time, circa 1992, the CBC itself was under attack as not worthy of receiving Congressional funding because of its special interest. Percy Sutton was in attendance among notables, as were personal friends of mine from LA's Black Women's Forum including the recently departed and greatly loved Lilian Mobley - the woman Maxine Waters could have been were she not... well..that's another story. All of those important people were important to black America in that special sense of their figuring in the poltiical calculations that were the vanguard of 'what we as a people should be demanding'. But in the end, the CBC was defunded and all of the politics of the 'digital divide' fell by the wayside. Nobody was disciplining the troops. There might have been true black strategies, but they never materialized.
I happen to believe that is a permanent pattern because sooner or later, black American individuate. The black shroud fails to cover the toes or the nose, and theories fall apart. Race loses its power to corral and define, despite so many hopes and ideas and theories and wishful thoughts. The prerogatives of American class take over. There are the Americans who get it, and those who don't.
Today is the end of Julyteenth, my attempt at sustaining some conversation about Cobb and race. There hasn't been a headline in The Root that resonated with me quite yet. The writers write and make sure they put 'black' in the headline - the black of self-selection, the black of the audience that becomes something just by being there. Black as the flash mob of something pronounced black, a black ad-hocracy, which becomes self-sustaining merely by repeating the existential questions and never coming up with a satisfying answer.
Anything is black enough. Anything.
So my conclusion is that it all gets diluted, all that blackness. What black people wanted, some black people got - and so satisfied ran out of questions to ask, leaving some ever-diminishing fraction behind.
I am troubled by the prospect that Obama will become the first President to get smacked down by Moody's, then again, what's Moody's. America is still the most powerful and richest nation on the planet, it's just a pitiful shame that this knucklehead President was so blind to think he could put on brakes and have no plan whatsoever for accelleration.
"I just want to share the wealth." will go down in history as one of those moments in which the President's facility with that economic thing we are is proven to be woefully inadequate.
Boehner is demonstrating that he can't add either. Apparently his plan, now accounted for by the CBO, doesn't even meet his own criteria. He's about to be a day late and a couple hundred billion short. Thursday is voting time, and Harry Reid, super-genius has got several crates of Acme products just a-waitin'.
In the meantime, I just read a remarkable story about a man with an 800 FICO score, 30K in the bank and 20% down was not approved by Wells Fargo for a condo loan. We are back, ladies and gentlement. Back to 1981 - well, not quite yet. We don't see the inflation yet, but we are in those days of liquidity crisis. And guess what, you don't get no credit, suckas.
My man David Goldman tells us that Moody's is the company for people to lazy and/or inept to do their own credit analysis, and those that know already know and have hedged appropriately. When America goes AA, we'll still be America, and the deals we will do, we will do. This is the realpolitik that Obama is expecting he can play, like the rest of the Social Democrats who find nothing particularly upsetting about banking on the IRS' abillity to collect rain or shine.
The IRS will be hacked.
That's what happens in banana republics. Realpolitik and deals will be done because of powers that will force them to be done. To hell with merit. We don't even talk that language any longer. Once upon a time, there were no gambling casinos in California and we approved them for the tax money. Once upon a time there was no lottery in California and we approved it for the tax money. Today marijuana and same sex marriage await their day in the legal sun. Tax it! That makes it OK, so goes the logic. That's Double A ball. Bush league thinking.
Pops and I had one of our unending discourses last evening, and I was interested to hear his wariness of judgment. While I stayed away from the direct arguments and themes of my Peasant Theory, I did end up asking him a question about the elite vis a vis the mind of God. I had a couple ways of expressing this concern which I will now try with you. But first a little background.
He opened the discussion by telling me that he is considering remaking the Stations of the Cross into contemporary form, and asked me if I remembered whether there were 12 or 14. I hadn't thought about the Stations of the Cross in many years, but I knew beyond a doubt that the answer was 14, even though I went to the web to verify my answer. I was right. And then went searching for the music and lyrics to that song which begins 'At the Cross her station keeping' and finally found the melody on YouTube. It was difficult to find that exact melody and there were not many hits. And so I was reminded what troubled me about all the conveniences we have - and the implications of his dumbing down that Mass for the masses.
So I began with the quote from Stephenson who put words into Leibniz' mouth, the wit of which is the following:
“So I ventured into that library which had been closed up since the death of my father and still smelled like him. It might seem funny for me to speak of the smell, but that was the only connection I could draw at the time. For the books were all written in Latin or Greek, languages I did not know, and they treated of subjects with which I was completely unfamiliar, and they were arranged upon the shelves according to some scheme that must have been clear to my father, but to me was unknown, and would have been beyond my ken even if someone had been there to explain it to me.
“Now in the end, Monsieur Fatio, I mastered that library, but in order to do it I first had to learn Greek and Latin, and then read the books. Only when I had done these things was I finally able to do the most difficult thing of all, namely to understand the organizing principle by which my father had arranged the books on the shelves.”
This is the point. It takes effort to understand the mind of God, but progress can be made and understanding can be gained. Dumbing it down for the masses, is this useful? This begs several Lutheran questions, but we didn't go that way, primarily because he began to argue that in the hands of man, the words, will and mind of God becomes corrupted into such a state that no matter what the man's intention it becomes a project of Man at which point the Devine is lost.
So I pointed out all of the albums we were listening to and asked him to consider musical talent. I said that if you were to find the world's most talented composer, would it raise any concern if in the entire life of that artist he never considered writing sacred music and was never inspired by God. He said it wouldn't trouble him in the least. Wow. So I put it another way.
If I found the two most morally advanced men on the planet, both studying for decades, of equal intellect and one said that he had nothing more any man could teach him, and thus should be the moral authority of the planet. The other said he too had nothing more any man could teach him but humbled himself before God thus claiming he had more to learn. Which would you follow? He said it didn't matter.
Then I took two albums out, one from Herbie Hancock and another from Lisa Lisa & Full Force. I placed them five inches apart and analogized the implication of his arguments (which I do not do full justice in this abstract). That if you looked at the most talented musician in the world and the least
My argument is that I accept that any human healthy enough to survive has enough moral acuity to survive as well. It is a natural endowment. (via Spinoza, meaning it is a gift of God). That this acuity may be improved upon and expressed as law, and that this moral law is permanent and unchanging. Christianity may have 10 Commandments, but that is as insufficiently complete as a human with 10 words in his vocabulary. That for the sake of argument there are 10,000 moral laws analagous to a 10,000 word vocabulary with which we can all acquire full literacy and understanding.
I will have to leave it at that for the moment.
I have watched about eight or nine reality TV episodes, ever. Then again, I don't count Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch as reality TV. But there's a new game show in town that's rather interestingly shabby, which is One Man Army. It's so good that it made me do pushups.
The premise is simple. Take four macho dudes from various military, para-military, police and other such agencies and get them to compete in three super rigorous contests. For 10K dollars and the honorific 'One Man Army'. It's shabby because the production values and on screen graphics and sound effects are overdone - to the point of annoyance. The host's voice has got that mix reminescent of cartoon superheroes like Dr. Quest but not so smooth as made to sound artificially deep. I liked the guy from Superweapons much better.
But. It is by far the most difficult set of tests I've ever seen on any TV show. It's harsh. It's real.
When people complain about the levels of violence on TV, we tend to forget what real violence is like - as if we ever knew. Just one 20 second clip of Joe Theisman's leg going the wrong way or a weightlifting event gone horrible and then we instantly know what's too painful to watch. We are shocked by our ability to empathize with something that stands out from fiction. We immediatley know it's not drama for its own sake. So One Man Army impressed me with the harshness of its trials.
There are three challenges in each episode. Speed. Strength. Intelligence.
The first episode I watched, only one man finished the first challenge. It was crazy difficult.In this challenge, the contestant was placed in a tank filled with 50 degree water where the only breathing room was a hole about 6 inches in diameter. He has to breathe through that hole, then move back underwater to cut through about four inches of steel to escape the tank. This was the Speed Challenge, and the only man who finished too 45 minutes.
The strength challenge on the second show had men breaching through five barriers, one of which was a cinderblock wall with rebar. Another had them sprint uphill to fire a pistol at a target 60 feet away. One had them hang upside down and crack four safes.
I can't wait to see what they think of next, because when these guys fail, they fail hard. I'd have to say this is the unwussiest.
Our message to the White House over the last several months has been clear: there will be no debt limit hike without restraints on future spending and cuts greater than any hike, and there can be no tax increases. A bill that doesn't meet these tests cannot pass the House. The president has never put forth a plan that can actually pass in Congress. Perhaps he will today.
-- John Boehner
I rented a red car today because my black one is broken. But I didn't want the red one, I wanted the white one. The white one was in need of an oil change. The man behind the counter figured that I wanted the white one, given the choice, because the red attracts cops. I wasn't thinking about cops in particular, but being an old man in general.
You see, I've done pretty much all the things I wanted to do.
I find it intriguing still to be low-key while still maintaining many of my hunter's instincts, and over the past several years it has become something of an ingrained habit. But sometimes it's useful to remind myself and others where I have been to become so peaceful.
White water rafting, rock climbing, surfing, water skiing, jet skiing, skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, cycling, scuba diving, paintball, racqetball, motorcycle street racing... hmm.. it doesn't sound like such a big list now that I start writing it down. I've flown a single engine plane, hiked to the top of Mt Whitney, wrecked my motorcycle a couple times only to discover my broken kneecap 20 years later. I made a tandem dirt bike, gone parasailing, faced a rattlesnake withing striking distance and danced with Rosie Perez. I've been on television. I've been on radio. I've been to London, Milan and Paris and all over America.
Two things I always wanted to do but never quite got around to is learning to ride a unicycle and getting a black belt in aikido. I've never fired a sniper rifle and I haven't driven faster than 140mph. I have forgotten most of my bucket list, and I'm pretty sure that I destroyed my evil one. But now I'm a little curious as to where I might have kept a backup.
But there's the other stuff too. I had chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, impetigo, and a textbook case of pityriasis rosea. I've had probably six different kinds of knock-you-on-your ass flu following each move to a different part of the country. I've been detained by cops about 30 times for no good reason. I've been in the middle of an armed robbery complete with flying bullets, several bar fights and I almost drowned on vacation in Hawaii. I've had my nose broken by a wild pitch and got bit in the face by a German Shepherd. I crashed a minibike into a chainlink fence and fell down a concrete staircase like an idiot. I dropped a car jack on my big toe that put a crease in my toenail that took 18 months to grow out and I've driven three BMWs into the ground.
I have saved a drowning kid, been nominated Outstanding Young Man of America, and been elected National Finance Chair of NSBE. Twice. I sang in my church's Gospel Choir and once soloed at the LA Cathedral. I've been on the Dean's List of every school I ever attended and made National Merit Semifinalist. I stopped a bicycle thief.
I had an opportunity to be a training master of a crazy new product called Visual Basic. But I didn't want to live in some town called Redmond WA. And when Florida A&M University offered me a four year undergraduate scholarship, I said 'who'? I could have gone into business with my cousin who is now CEO of a company worth God only knows how many millions.
But I married the right woman, and never had a cavity until 2 years ago.
I have said on several occasions that I feel ready to die. Not that I want to, by any means, but that if I did, my only regret would be not seeing my kids and their families become what they will. But here's the thing for now, and I like remembering it:
b> fiscal discipline
c> commit myself to do the most of the unique things only I can do.
And it's the last one that makes it all feel right. I'm on the verge of being annoyingly uninterested in people's opinions of me. That's what happens when I read historical fiction.
For a long time, I have had the category 'A Punch in the Nose'. I use this blog category to virtually slap around some idea or activity that I find distasteful, immoral or stupid. But it has deeper associations for me.
I happen to be one of those people who firmly believes that a certain amount of chivalry is necessary. By chivalry, I mean a code of honor among free men that allows them to adjudicate matters of dispute independently of institutions of law. The aim is not to counter the law, but to uphold its spirit without enduring its tedium and expense.
Americans remain fascinated by television shows that dramatize small claims courts. I've watched a few episodes of Judge Judy and Judge Joe Black and I sense that the intended audiences are to bring their own judgments into sharper relief. Watching is an ethical exercise. We all judge. Do we judge well?
If a society is to have liberty then there must be balance between the freedom of the individual and the oversight of the republic. I sometimes question whether American society is sufficiently grounded, on the whole, with the proper amount of good sense to uphold a reasonable common law in the breach of official enforcement. It is not that I think we are essentially too barbarian. On the contrary, I think we have accepted too much policing and lawyering, and having done so atrophied our native civil abilities. Because of this long held belief on my part, I have always been of the opnion that a punch in the nose is better than a lawsuit. If I would have my way, the blood in the streets of America would come more from fists than from billy clubs.
I readily admit that it is a complicated matter. Between the extremes of Hobbes and Rousseau, I can be a bit confused. Let me go back...
For your edification, I grew up in what I would call a 'knuckle-up' neighborhood. One in which bicycles were abused in the manner that give birth to what we now call 'extreme sports'. There was a certain amount of violent action in several dimensions of life that we no longer find socially acceptable, for one simple example, roller derby. My theory is that the suppression of this acceptable level of violence and action has changed our patterns of dealing with risk. IE people who feel safe because they wear helmets might drive faster, or having eliminated risk in one area of activity balance it out with a completely new risky activity. My own one-off experience says that people who grew up with Tom Sawyer's expectation of and experience with fistfights doesn't generally need to go rock-climbing for adventure. And my own slightly biased opinion is that people trade sex for violence - which is to say we have traded away a society where arguments could be settled with a chivalric punch in the nose instead have one in which the most childish disputes engage attorneys.
If it can be said that I prefer a masculine society, then I must agree.
I know my father. I knew my father's father. I know the name of his father as well although he died in 1918, long before I was born. I have confidence that my resemblance to all of those men is more than genetic. I inherit their character and demeanor, and I have been well served by this.
The other day, reading in The Confusion, I came across a passage that immediately made me think of contemporary black American society.
“These Malabar women are as free with men, as Charles II himself was with women,” Jack explained. “In these parts, a man can never tell which children are his. Or to put it another way, every man knows his mother but hasn’t the faintest idea who his father might be. Consequently, all property passes down the female line.”
“Including the crown?”
“Including the crown. One peculiarity of this arrangement is that a man, going in to pay a call on a lady, never knows what other man he might discover in her bed. To prevent awkward situations, a gallant therefore leaves his weapon leaning against the door-post when he enters — as a sign to all who pass by that the lady’s attentions are spoken for.”
Stephenson, Neal (2009). The Confusion (P.S.) (Kindle Locations 11373-11379). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.
I don't mean to suggest much more than that there is a well-functioning matriarchy alive and well in black society, and it is significant. Perhaps if it were admitted and understood, then we might find some interesting patterns emerging.
Like most of the Kwaku set, I engaged quite a bit on last week's controversy over who got married in slavery days. And since I wasn't born last week, I have heard all of the generalizations about the greatness and persistence of the African, the legacies of slavery, the refutations of Moynihan, black macho and the myth of the super woman, and my new favorite - the Luther Problem, which is kinda like The Denzel Principle. So let me digress on that a bit.
The Luther Problem is the extraordinary acceptance of black women of the romantic blatherations of gay black men on the reverse DL. IE gay men singing love songs about women. Which is to say there is something profoundly odd about the fact that women fall in love with men who use the romantic proxy of gay Cyranos. A chair is just a chair, even when there's no one sitting there, but a male is not a man and a homo is not a wingman. Unless he is, and Luther was. There is surely something to protest in this point of view, but I won't hear it from anyone who prattles on about Catholic priests. Either love is Platonic or it is not. End of (strange) digression.
So this basically boils down to the fundamental question of whether it is reasonable to make beef about the extraordinary fact of black single parentage. Is it cultural or economic phenomenon? If it is a cultural phenomenon, then the extent to whether it should be considered positive or negative must depend on your view of matriarchy.
What say you?
I say Moyniahan was right.
I'm following a dude named Jeff Jarvis because I've vaguely heard of him, and I figured I'd use G+ for new things. It turns out that he's got a throbbing vein or two for the carcass of Rupert Murdoch. I've been rather uninterested in the matter, because nobody's really treated it well on this side of the pond. Hoever there's a new snapshot of the tangled web in the News of the World scandal and it begins to look rather interesting.
Since the real excressence of interest to me is the extent to which News Corp has used cell phone hacking as a source for information, that's rather the angle I will bang on as the maddening shcadenfruede continues to give this story legs. It's a story until there is an arrest, and you will note those gunning for the owner of Fox News and the those who presumably get all of their education from Bill O'Reilly and the Bible are slipping a bit when it comes to their own ethics. Obviously, many of them have little regard for 'Big' anything, and several have suggested that Murdoch himself be hacked, (but not arrested).
There are several angles to pursue in this that I will be brief about.
One: The extent to which this is a non-issue in a planet spewing forth more and more accessible news of equal or higher quality than that profiting the MSM.
Two: The extent to which this non-issue is more significant to MSM outlets and journos attempting to reclaim reputations for rigor and righteousness.
Three: The contrast between the political significance of Murdoch and Assange with no moral regard to the crime of cracking.
Four: The outrage of The News of the World itself.
It may take some time before I finish my Go Bags. I have decided to get my biggest piece of ruggedized equipment a little early. I figured it would be Christmas before I got the Beast but apparently the Transporter wasn't concerned. I had gotten to the point at which I found myself making excuses about getti>ng from Point A to Point B regarding the increasingly sorry state of my previous car's condition. But it decided for me. So I bought this on Carmageddon weekend when nobody left the house, and I got a pretty good deal. I forgot that this puppy had suicide doors, and I got a pretty decent package all in all for a certified used. Still, I bought a little bit more car than I originally wanted. On the whole, I'm very satisfied. The ride is way smooth, and it bounces nicely when you take it over curbs. The stereo plays MP3s and the subwoofer woofs pretty deeply. It's not the 4x4 but it does have the compass and inclinometer package, the differential lockup and the 400W 110 outlet. And cupholders!
The guys at Carson Toyota did a fine job. Chuma the sales guy was just my speed, and Nader the finance guy got me through that process with a minimum of pain - considering the dude at Wells Fargo who didn't get me butkis. So I suppose I will be charitable this week since I just raised my credit limit and did my part to stimulate the economy. I'll shutup about the Resident.
As you might expect, I am seeing yellow cars everywhere now.
There is nothing I feel quite so strongly about the end of the Harry Potter series as I do about the matter of courage. The last installment feels like nothing so much as an entreaty to youth to be unafraid of death and to understand that all plans fail except those that leave your heart's direction undeflected. The end of Harry presages the end of Europe.
Surely there have been those who have taken the arc of Rowling into a more appropriate context, but to this Yank it's loud and clear. Destruction awaits us, but there is a way through it.
I read a little graphic over at the website of the animators who are contracted with the Royal Society. It said something to the effect that success is 99% failure. All the difference is made by recognizing the 1% for what it is. Faith in the 1% chance. I am starting to make more sense of this particular sensibility. Rather like Rudyard Kipling's 'If', there is something to the the idea of acting as if failure is impossible, living 'as if'.
But it cannot be the only thing that inspires. There is much to be said about the foolishness of diehards whom fortune favors. Beware the bull of a man who doesn't actually out-maneuver you, but squishes you down. Hmm. I don't have to tell you that, unless you are alternately cowering and braying behind Voldemort.
Watching Harry destroy the most powerful wand in the world, I get it. Seeing him drop the Resurrection Stone into the weedy floor of the darkest wood, I understand. What makes us best is when we are best without the promise of reward. It is the anti-meritocracy - and that's hard to explain and almost counter-intuitive in America, but I'll try to spell it out.
As Cobb readers know, I admire spies and priests on the predicate that they are abiding secret keepers. Rather like Snape, there is much admirable to be said about the man who doesn't, at every turn, attempt to profit on what he knows. That is the simplistic meritocracy, and what it creates is an atmosphere of high stakes volleyball. You know. Where everybody competes all the time and doesn't want *you* on their team if they can avoid it. And you get pissed and start cracking wise about how it's only volleyball. Nobody likes a smartass. But the presumption that everybody gets rewarded with wealth, power, fame, honor, etc. make everybody into a smartass. Especially those who smug wankers who win, and those jealous haters who decide that they're too smart to take that winning seriously. Big prize money, the Dosh Point, it warps the moral space-time continuum, and when that happens, well then lazy people can travel faster than light, even though the speed of light is the law.
So you have to watch out for the power of the brass ring. Hmm. Tolkein. Let me contemplate tha parallels for a moment. OK, enough.
For those of you who don't know, this is the drug that Breitbart is high on. And while I haven't gotten a chance to meet a lot of my philosophical compatriots face to face, I suspect that many of the more thoughtful ones might have a course or two at Claremont in common.
I've been waiting for Bill Whittle to get his proper funding so as to not be under the financial thumb of PJTV or whatever the reason was for this video to only recently become freely available. This is one of his more inspired 13 minutes - which covers a lot of ground. You're not likely, I think, to see anything this good on television of any sort. Yet.
Declaration Entertainment is the new home of Whittle and he's taking a slightly different tack from what I've seen. He's getting better. And again this particular message is the one that strikes home for former Progressives like me who were never quite comfortable with all of the Commies who show up for the MLK Day Parade.
Interestingly enough, the Frankfurt School was exactly where I was pointed when I wanted to understand and make more sense of everything I had been trying to learn outside of my profession. And 'Critical Theory' is a category in this blog because it was the black critical theorists that I began reading back in '90 when I decided that being part of the Talented Tenth wasn't quite enough for me. Since it is Julyteenth I should expand on that a bit.
I can recall the day when, unlike just about every summer weekend before, I began wanting to enjoy the company of books to the company of my black yuppie compadres. I was at a pool party and a day or two before, I started reading Beloved by Toni Morrison. It was the first book by a black author that truly captivated me with its content and style. So much of what I had read before was so shallow by comparison - here finally was the intellectual level of black literature I had been searching for. As I had previously read Gloria Naylor's "Women of Brewster Place" and some others I forgot - I had been so embarassed. There seemed to be nothing to quench my thirst for art and literature above the level of BET, and I spent a lot of time and money looking for black highbrow culture. That Naylor had won a prize as one of the best American writers, I was more than disappointed. It was this kind of disappointment that was more indicative of my needs rather than Naylor's mediocrity. I began to head towards all things Asian, impressed as I was by the films of Kurosawa, the biography of Mishima, the philosophy of Sun Tzu, the manga of Otomo, the fiction of James Clavell and this chick named Maiko. At the same time, I was mightily impressed by both the Graywolf Annual on Multicultural Literacy and the original Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch Jr.
I was ending my 20s and I wanted more. I figured I had done quite enough of the buppie thing and it wasn't very satisfying. I wanted more than ski trips and a BMW. Well, I wanted those too, but also more. I wanted my black culture to be the ultimate black culture. And when I finally read Toni Morrison, and I finally saw The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe, I began to see where it was. In fact there was something in academia, and I was introduced to the formal Critical Theorists through my associations with UCLA's black professoriate. So I read, in those days before Skip Gates had compiled the selections for the Norton Anthology, those considered on the leading edge of black scholarship Kimberle Crenshaw, Audre Lorde, Derrick Bell, bell hooks, Stephen L. Carter and the lord and master of all, my new hero Cornel West. It was Cornel West who finally gave me the understanding, at a philosophical level, what my American intellectual inheritance was. Without any idea that there was any substance to Conservative thought in America or Europe at all, I came to know the American Pragmatists through his survey, 'The American Evasion of Philosophy'.
Amidst the brain rot of Afrocentrism and the 50 page books of rabid bloviators like Juwanza Kinjufu and Francis Cress Welsing I came to the Progressive edge seeking Praxis.
Praxis is a specific kind of obedience that organizes itself around a social theory of reality in order to implement in the society the freedom, inherent in faith. If faith is the belief that God created all for freedom, then praxis is the social theory used to analyze what must be done for the historical realization of freedom. To sing about freedom and to pray for its coming is not enough. Freedom must be actualized in history by oppressed peoples who accept the intellectual challenge to analyze the work for the purpose of changing it. -- James Cone, Speaking the Truth
That was something I could sink my teeth into because Evasion showed me without question that all the philosophical basis for 'freedom' and 'liberty' were the All-American ideas of Emerson, Dewey, DuBois, Mills and Neibuhr and further that there was nothing other than pedantic epistemological nonsense coming out of Europe. I was basically in thrall to this mindset until my son was born and I had to get real.
But there were cracks in the armor I could perceive before the beginning of the end. The post-modern deconstructionist babble was its own worst enemy. I understood Eco's semiotics well enough to tell that a lot of baffling bullshit was being sold. So when I finally got the recommendation to follow up on Adorno and company (not surprisingly from a friend at Columbia U.) I had just about had enough. Morrison had ironically showed me that good writing was better than coherent Left theory, so as she went off the deep end of suffering and started Playing in the Dark, I was ready to walk away from it all, which I finally did in about 96 in the midst of my Boohabian playground. The last blackified book I (sorta) read was 'Volunteer Slavery', which although it was about Corporate America, also pretty much summed up too much of black writing's intellectual direction. When I moved to the South and started reading 'Pushed Back To Strength', after about eight years of reading, I was pretty much done.
I settled on reading James Baldwin as the last of my black literature knowing it would return me to the subjects of love and integrity. At least those were the books I wanted to read of Baldwin's. And having done so, I abandoned all of that Progessive philosophy to make money and raise a family in Atlanta, the black mecca. But the last of my high energy New York intellectual pursuits led me to the source and all I could hear was that Marx didn't get everything right, but the only way to really understand capitalism is to master Marxist thought. Therefore, Frankfurt School. Which is kinda weird considering that I actually wanted to get an MBA from Columbia and become a quant programmer on Wall Street.
I was quite fortunate to have made my first six figure year in 1995 as an independent consultant. And that year I learned what it felt like to walk around a city in a suit because I wanted to, on a day I didn't have to work because I didn't feel like it. I was my own boss. The seeds were sown and the practicality of being that kind of breadwinner set me up for my conservative conversion several years hence. But I had stepped outside one main stream of The Narrative when I left New York.
From John C. Wright, my new favorite skeptic:
"I would love to see your thoughts on the current dust-up the Atheist community is having (right now) over coffee."
For those of you who have not heard of this case, the fact pattern is this:
The young lady in question objected to a man attempting to court her according to what the modern world holds as a perfectly acceptable method of courting: after talking with her until four in the morning at a bar, he asked her to go up to his room for a cup of coffee. She objected, not that his attentions were unflattering or ill timed, but that he was sexually attracted to her at all. In other words, it is the fact that mother nature made her female that the young lady find appalling. With the utter inability to restrict her comments to proportionality (or sanity) typical of the Left, she likened the awkward proposition to rape.
Richard Dawkins, in the scathing fashion typical of the Internet, left a message on her blog mocking her for complaining about what was at most an imposition on courtesy, hardly an act of oppression or male dominion.
Need anything be said? It is one of the few times I agree with Richard Dawkins, who otherwise is a disgrace to the cause of Atheism I once served. He is right to hold the belligerence of the feminista up to mockery, and to contrast it with the real oppression of women by the Mohammedans
If the young lady were sane, or sincere, or in other words not a Leftist, she would be agitating for the return of Victorian standards of modesty, such that men and women would have a set of unwritten rules, known to both beforehand, as guidelines for when a young lady can be courted, and by what means, and when not.
You see, the idea of leaving the rules up to the individuals to agree upon each man for himself contains an absurdity: you cannot court a woman, or even ask her to dance, if you are already in a relationship with her and know her well enough to negotiate your own rules. The rules of courtship are rules on how to approach a woman who is a partial or a total stranger. Strangers can only be bound by unwritten rules that bind the whole society, with few or no exceptions.
And, of course, the hypocrisy of a woman who has been out drinking until 4.00, without an escort, suddenly wanting the protect of Victorian rules of modesty, but without being willing to pay the price demanded, i.e. to act modestly, is rank. If you are in a bar without an escort, and you are young and female, expect to be hit on. You and yours helped make this society exactly what it is: you cannot expect men to act like gentlemen when every single damn word out of your collective mouth for the past three generations has been a denunciation, a mockery, an insult, and a discouragement to gentlemanly behaviors.
In morals as in economics, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Do you regard modesty and chastity to be mere patriarchal restrictions and oppression, O ye ladies of the Left? Then utter no complaint when immodesty and unchastity of yourself and your sisters is answered by immodesty and unchastity by your menfolk.
That all parties involved are atheists makes the situation deliciously ridiculous. So, you think you can create a rational set of moral and ethical guidelines to guide human behavior, based merely on human reason and human appetites? Go ahead.
Behold the result: once group of morality-hating zealot screaming in holier-than-thou perfection of hot temper at another group of morality-hating holier-than-thou zealots. The cool reasoning powers that atheists praise seems not much in evidence.
This is an excellent teaching exercise.
Like most Americans, I didn't know Eric Cantor before today. But he stood toe to toe with the President and neither of them blinked. I think we're going to find out what those two men are made of in the next few days.
As much as I take tax abatement to be a one note drone with the intellect of a stone, I gave it a second thought today as I read the various hearsay over the negotiation showdown. The counter to the argument I've been making presented itself to me as I thought about the size of our numbers.
When you're spending trillions and you start negotiating between 1.5T and 1.7T, it's easy to forget that how big that T is. Somewhere I read that 2.5T was within the realm of possibility, if the appropriate cuts were made. Now splitting the difference between 1.7 and 2.5 with some mix of tax increases and loophole closings sounds like a deal. Let's say you split it 50/50. You're trying to cut 800Billion.
So you say OK Mr. President if you cut 400B in spending I'll concede 400B in revenue. Deal.
Hold up. Wait a minute. What's 800Bilion? 800 Billion is the total cost of the Iraq War to date, with 100 Billion to spare. So you're telling me that to meet the President halfway, you have to raise taxes to the tune of more than half the cost of the Iraq War? Just to get cuts in *discretionary spending*?
Sorry. Didn't I mention that? Non-Defense discretionary spending is about 600 billion per year. Defense is another 600 billion. The 2011 spending plan is 3.8 and the revenue plan is 2.1T leaving a shortfall of 1.65T except we're so deep in the hole paying interest on the debt that number keeps growing.
So we spend 1.7 trillion more than we make, we keep raising our credit limit, and to meet the President halfway means we pay 400B more in taxes. Given all that, we break even and we're spending 2.5 Trillion a year.
The temptation here is to keep using the Ts and the Bs and look at 'split the difference' and abstract with percentages. It's very easy to get comfortable doing that, which is exactly why the banking industry failed and has yet to be fixed, recovered or trusted. I kid you not when I tell you that we used to have something called a Savings & Loan industry whose focus was getting people in America mortgages without using leveraged CDOs and hedged tranches of loans who originators were 6 parties removed. America doesn't have a Savings & Loan industry any longer. It's gone. Like the Apollo Program. Like $1 gas with 10x Blue Chip Stamps. They are all uneconomical now. The opportunity to go back does not exist. That's why that temptation is foolish in the extreme.
What the President has now is the bully pulpit, which means a script and some fraction of the American public that still trusts men in blue suits, white shirts and red ties when they speak on that thing called 'prime time television'. But the bully pulpit doesn't make money and I've never seen it make people want to spend money.
No Mr. President I'm not going to eat my peas because they're not my goddamned peas. I didn't order the peas. You and your predecessor did while you were out shopping for stuff you thought would be good for me. I'm pushing the plate back and I'm not eating those peas. And I'm not going to scrape them off my plate to the dog, or my kids either. Matter of fact, I'm going on a diet. And I'm going to the cupboard and see what other expensive fatty crap you've been out buying. And we're going to make you take it back.
So this is the standoff.
It has come to this, and this will end in tears. I'm afraid our President is unprepared to convince the American people that he's the kind of leader who can make us eat our peas and dare us to say something. He's right, this wouldn't have happened to Ronald Reagan because Reagan enjoyed being a cowboy. But Candidate Obama was a healer, a community man. A lover, not a fighter. Which is why Eric will call the bluff, and face what?
If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred billion dollars of revenue increases.
A normal Republican Party would seize the opportunity to put a long-term limit on the growth of government. It would seize the opportunity to put the country on a sound fiscal footing. It would seize the opportunity to do these things without putting any real crimp in economic growth.
The party is not being asked to raise marginal tax rates in a way that might pervert incentives. On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.
This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.
But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.
And I agree with him. In response to the populism of the Obama campaign, Republicans everywhere have let their inbred cousins have the podium, and keep the podium. The Tea Party, as I was reminded this morning is now and should be henceforth known as the Populist Right, or at least that's what I'm going to call it, and Cobb readers know how much I dislike populists.
The Populist Right has really failed to do anything impressive and while I've not been following as closely as I normally might, I don't expect to be pleasantly surprised when I bother to look. The oncoming train is the $4 billion a day shortfall that somebody in government is going to have to start dealing with. I've been saying that the only way our current crop of politicians will fix this is after it collapses beyond repair. And those Americans who were responsible for electing the current crop of retards are those who are going to reap this whirlwind.
I can already see, in a larger sense, how the smart money has left the building. How over the next several years the pain of inflation is going to kill so much middle class optimism. How understanding economics now is going to make a huge difference for my children, and how sorry the situation will be for all those who don't.
The Populists on both sides have it all wrong, and I expect their identity politics to continue. They will be rioting in the streets in a few years.
I shook hands with Gina who, next to Shawn Williams, seems to be the diva in residence. The lady in green two to Gina's right won the Lifetime Achievment Award for her ConcreteLoop. And Shawn hipped me to the general flavor of this year's get together as compared to the other four he's attended. In short, it's all good, and more professional than ever.
I mentioned shaking Gina's hand because I recognize that there has been spilt beef between her and my boy Jimi. I can't remember exactly the subject matter, but I seem to recall that the dimensions seemed large at the time, whenever exactly that was. It seemed to be enough to raise a lingering bitter aftertaste, and I realize that 'a good friend of Jimi Izrael' was a really foolish way to introduce myself. But what I didn't want to do was say, Oh I'm just the winner of this award from three years ago, you should know me. And I didn't have the nerve to introduce myself as the ghost of Aaron Hawkins. Basically, I didn't have anything useful to blurt, so I dropped that bomb name when she said that my name sounded familiar. I just wanted to know who was whom, but since Shawn told me everything I wanted to know, I stopped poking people.
When I bogarded into the 'survivors breakfast' I was looking to see if I could find my old friend Sheryl Huggins. But she wasn't around. Neither was George Kelly, nor Jasmyn Cannick which was something of a surprise. Jason Toney wasn't there and Gina was basically the only one whose work I recognized. Shawn told me that about 70% of the attendees have only begun blogging since 08 or 09, which roughly coincides with that dude from Chicago and the Jena Six putting 'black blogging' on the map. So I just sat back to listen.
Gina said something that resounded with me while I was at her table. She said that black journalists made a huge mistake by not partnering with black bloggers a few years ago. If they had joined up and showed bloggers how to get paid and by what standards they might get paid, then the salary floor wouldn't have fallen so far for the industry. So the hesitation to take black bloggers seriously wounded black journalism on the whole. I'm not in a position to know better, but that makes a whole lot of sense to me, and I know that here in LA there was some effort to help but I'm not sure it did.
You see the juggernaut in black journalism is entertainment news. It drives everything and I daresay it's the only thing over which there is any blackified home field advantage. My baby brother (whom I've never mentioned on Cobb) Bleek works part time in that black journalism world and he gets the inside access to all of the hiphop and NBA stars when they are in town and there's a story to be told. That network is still tight. Of course black radio has its grip on... well everything that black radio has been for the past 30 years, which is now an aging demographic. And to tell you the truth, it ain't difficult to hear the Spinners on your traditional Oldies stations.
This is a mistake that I've seen before, and interestingly enough I'm starting to see it as a market phenomonon. The mistake I saw before was how black radio here in Los Angeles did not take hiphop seriously in the mid 80s, nor did Motown take music videos seriously. There was a small set of execs who ran their companies they way they wanted and it took a new generation with new companies to change what was to what needed to be. But there was a price paid while the new jacks suffered out in the cold. So new exciting rap groups like Whistle no airplay while tired whack R&B groups like Midnight Star did. It's the same kind of oligarchy one step outside of the mainstream that constrains new creativity.
Obviously there's always that economic excuse. Small businessmen cannot capitalize and monetize all that new black talent. And we could get into that black economics discussion one more time, but it's rather old.
The news is that the new black bloggers are learning the capital game early, and that was the flavor I picked up in about 90 minutes.
Economic predictions (0+ / 0-)
The new analysis finds the program will be able to pay full scheduled benefits until 2053 - nearly fifty years into the future - with no changes whatsoever. This means Social Security is far sounder today than it has been through most of its existence. In the past, shortfalls in every decade from the forties to the eighties required frequent tax increases, with the last series of increases ending in 1990.
The new assessment is substantially more optimistic than the Social Security trustees report issued in March. This report projected the program would only be able to pay full benefits until 2042. The size of the shortfall over the seventy-five year planning horizon is also considerably lower in the CBO report. While the trustees report had projected the shortfall as being equal to 0.73 percent of GDP over this period, the new CBO report implies the shortfall will be equal to only approximately 0.37 percent of GDP. By comparison, the recent increase in annual defense spending associated with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is equal to 1.0 percent of GDP.
The main reasons for the more optimistic picture in the CBO analysis than in the trustees report are the assumption that the unemployment rate will be lower and productivity growth will be closer to its long-term average, rather than slower rate during the years of 1973-1995. The trustees report assumes that long-term productivity growth will average just 1.6 percent annually, slightly faster than the 1.5 percent rate during the slowdown. By comparison, the CBO report assumes an average rate of productivity growth of 1.9, which is closer to the 2.5 percent average over the longer period 1947 to 2003 for which reliable data exists.
The more rapid pace of productivity growth translates into more rapid wage growth, which in turn leads to more rapid growth in revenue. Since post-retirement benefits are indexed to prices, not wages, more rapid wage growth increases the ratio of revenue to costs.
The assumption of more rapid productivity growth is also important from the standpoint of inter-generational equity. While the trustees' assumptions imply that before-tax hourly wages will be nearly 50.0 percent higher in forty years, the CBO assumptions imply that compensation will have grown by more than 65.0 percent. This means if taxes are raised to sustain benefit levels, future generations of workers will still enjoy far higher standards of living than do workers at present.
This morning I learned that the government is coming up short 4 Billion dollars a day. Four billion per day. Is that crisis enough for you?
"They take one little word out of what you say, ignore all the rest, and then begin to magnify it all over the world to make you look like what you actually aren't. And I'm very used to that."
-- Malcolm X
I certify these are the documents as I know them. In the interest of nuance.
MD5 (consequences_of_marriage.pdf) = 91ec270b619e7aec0b4ce26ea5066224
MD5 (Family_Leader_MarriageVow.pdf) = 26e3acfbbbf9fadd4883e5b27a31375d
This controversy is starting to remind me of my defense of Bill Bennett. Let's see if the haters can sustain their smears.
Candidate Bachmann got her sentence about black marriage during slavery times from a 72 page document entitled The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans published in 2005 by The Institute for American Values.
Here follows the summary of the details.
Four Major Questions
1. What are the economic, psychosocial, and health-related consequences of marriage for African American men, women, and children?
2. Do the consequences of marriage differ for Blacks and Whites?
3. If racial differences exist, what explains these differences?
4. What are the policy implications of these findings?
To answer these questions, we conducted a comprehensive review of scholarly articles, reports, and books focusing in part on the consequences of marriage for African Americans published from 1990 through 2004. We also conducted new research specifically for this report, using survey data collected from 1973 through 2002 by the American General Social Surveys, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.
Based on this review of the academic literature and our new research, we present the following ten major findings.
Ten Major Findings
1. Marriage clearly appears to promote the economic, social, familial, and psychological well-being of African American men and women. Even when studies control for a wide range of variables, they consistently find that married Black adults, compared to those who are unmarried, have more income, are less likely to face poverty, and are more likely to be happy. Marriage also appears to promote bet- ter family functioning for African Americans. At the same time, the evidence generally suggests that Black adults derive little benefit from marriage in terms of physical health.
2. While both Black men and Black women receive a marriage premium, this premium in most cases appears to be larger for men. Put a bit differently, Black women overall seem to receive less benefit from marriage than do Black men. This gender gap is especially pronounced in the areas of family life and physical health. In fact, married Black women actually report poorer health than do unmarried Black women. The one exception to this pattern is in the economic domain, where Black men and women appear to benefit comparably from marriage.
3. Economically, marriage appears to benefit Blacks more than Whites. In part because marriage often means an additional wage earner for the family, and in part because marriage typically increases the income and the economic productivity of individuals, married-couple Black families have far more income, and are far less likely to live in poverty, than other Black families. This economic premium stem- ming from marriage is comparably larger for Blacks than for Whites. In general, marriage appears to contribute greatly to the economic well-being of African American families.
4. Overall, Black women appear to benefit from marriage substantially less than do White women. By contrast, the differences in the benefit from marriage between Black men and White men appear in most cases to be minimal.
5. Black-White differences in marital quality seem to constitute an important reason why Black adults, and particularly Black women, typically benefit less from marriage than do Whites. On average, the marriages of Whites appear to be marked by more happiness and less conflict than those of African Americans. The lower average quality of African American marriages, in turn, seems to reduce the benefits to adults that those marriages might otherwise yield. In our analysis of data from the General Social Surveys, we find that controlling for marital quality signifi- cantly reduces the Black-White gap in the estimated benefits of marriage.
6. Parental marriage produces important benefits for African American children. Black children of married parents typically receive better parenting, are less delinquent, have fewer behavioral problems, have higher self-esteem, are more likely to delay sexual activity, and have moderately better educational outcomes. Because many of the relevant studies on child outcomes employ comprehensive controls, there is strong reason to believe that these findings reflect more than mere correlations. Marriage itself appears to be generating strong positive results for African American children. At the same time, marriage may have little or no impact on school dropout and drug use among Black adolescents.
7. Parental marriage appears to be especially important for the well-being of young African American males. In areas including parental support, delinquency, self-esteem, and school performance, having one’s father in the home, and particularly one’s married father, appears to be a crucial determinant of better outcomes for young Black males. When viewed alongside our other finding regarding the larger marriage premium for Black men, as compared to Black women, this finding suggests that mar- riage is particularly important for African American males at all stages of the life cycle.
8. In some areas, Black children seem to benefit more from parental marriage than do White children, whereas in other areas, the reverse is true. Regarding both levels of parental support and the risks of delinquency, African American children seem to benefit more from parental marriage than do White children. Yet regarding educational performance, early sexual activity, substance use, and possibly high school completion, White children appear to derive greater benefits from parental marriage than do their African American peers.
9. The reasons for some apparent racial differences in the consequences of marriage for children are not clear, and further research in this area is needed. One possibility is that studies need more carefully to distinguish the effects of parental non-marriage on Black sons as compared to Black daughters, since the impact on boys appears to be greater than the impact on girls. Another, related possibility is that the institutional contexts and cultural norms affecting African American children are in some respects distinctive, thus making it harder for researchers to tease out the specific effects of marriage and non-marriage when it comes to Black-White differences in child outcomes.
10. For policy makers who care about Black America, marriage matters. Public and private sector policies aimed at increasing marriage rates among African Americans, and particularly policies aimed at increasing the number and proportion of high quality Black marriages, are important strategies for improving the well-being of African Americans and for strengthening civil society.
In the end, you might still conclude that Bachmann is a 'flake', but if so, why would she cite this study?
Three years ago I won the Aaron Hawkins Award. It was one of those magical moments in life, the unexpected blessing, the honor of being recognized by your peers. I was doing a lot in '07 that got me the 08 award, including a little TV and Radio. But things have changed since then, and having had my fill of populist politics, I began changing direction again.
On Sunday morning, I found myself over at the Sheraton Gateway bogarding into the closing hours of the Blogging While Brown Conference which presented the award for 2011 the previous evening. Having stepped away from the subject of black politics, it was interesting to see the BWB crowd. I've also been paying attention to headlines from The Root as of late. Some of them I want to grab by the lapels and shake, others are actually intriguing. Last night I got a minute to hang out with the orchestra my niece is playing in over in Ladera, one of few remaining America's Talented Tenth strongholds. And last but not least, there's some email going around that the black middle class is shrinking in on itself.
So I've got a little bit of ground to cover, and even though I've been on vacation for a week, I did so much more meeting and reading than writing that it feels a bit odd to take on what I used to do so often back in 07. So I figure I'll make my own update which I will recontextualize into the 8th, 9th or 10th series of essays on The End of My Blackness. I can't keep up.
On the whole existential front, the answer is that I don't have an answer, which is primarily because there are no niggling questions that get under my skin about race. On the whole, the race thing seems superfluous exactly in the way it should. Which is nothing more or less than me saying, I've succeeded with regard to race in the way I wanted to so I've got no issues.
Nevertheless, I cannot say that I'm up to date on what keeps the audience on their feet. So to that end I'm going to be doing some trackbacks over to Ed Brown and to the Black Snob, as well as a few comments at The Root, just to see what's up. And as usual, I will stick my foot into various tarbaby topics just to spice things up a bit.
"Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President,"
Pick the response most accurately representing the author's writing.
What I should have done was actually go out to different blogs and news reports to see the actual foolish conclusions drawn, but most of them are too long to sustain a coherent point. It's just another opportunity to play the game of morally superior interpretation of history.
I don't know Bachmann, nor do I pay attention to her, but it's clear that she has walked into a burning building.
Quote of the Week
Leibniz answered. “For every human being who is born into this universe is like a child who has been given a key to an infinite Library, written in cyphers that are more or less obscure, arranged by a scheme — of which we can at first know nothing, other than that there does appear to be some scheme — pervaded by a vapor, a spirit, a fragrance that reminds us that it was the work of our Father. Which does us no good whatever, other than to remind us, when we despair, that there is an underlying logic about it, that was understood once and can be understood again.” “But what if it can only be understood by a mind as great as God’s? What if we can only find what we want by factoring twenty-digit numbers?” “Let us understand what we may, and extend our reach, insofar as we can, by the making of engines, and content ourselves with that much,” Leibniz answered. “It will suffice to keep us busy for a while. We cannot perform all of the calculations needed without turning every atom in the Universe into a cog in an Arithmetickal Engine; and then it would be God —” “I think you are coming close to words that could get you burnt at the stake, Doctor
Stephenson, Neal (2009). The Confusion (P.S.) (Kindle Locations 5837-5846). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.
I do indeed love Neal Stephenson's writing.
Here's a better list:
- To feed the hungry;
- To give drink to the thirsty;
- To clothe the naked;
- To harbour the harbourless;
- To visit the sick;
- To ransom the captive;
- To bury the dead.
- To instruct the ignorant;
- To counsel the doubtful;
- To admonish sinners;
- To bear wrongs patiently;
- To forgive offences willingly;
- To comfort the afflicted;
In the real world, those acts of mercy can take many, many forms. Perhaps you'll find him ladling soup in a homeless shelter. That would be an easy one to spot. Or maybe he's the young medical student who circles back after a long day of work to read stories to the pediatric patients. Maybe he's the guy who listens patiently as his grandfather goes on and on about a distant memory not quite still within his reach. Or maybe he's the one who's working fulltime and getting his degree because he dreams of a large family and wants the means with which to support them. Is he the guy next door? The one who "only" goes to Sunday Mass, but who also cheerfully picks up two young soccer players and drives them to practice three times a week because their mom is bedridden? And all the while, in the car, he is their friend. Their real friend. A strong shoulder to lean on in a time of crisis at home. Just a real good guy. Look for a real good guy. Someone who will journey with you.
This is somebody who did not grow up where there are street gangs. Which means there are either no streets, or there are cops and/or soldiers who pacified them. Aside from the annoyance such people provide me as they luxuriate in the convenience of all that is, there is a significant problem with this philosophy: it requires a vengeful defense. It requires a hegemonic overlord. It requires the extermination of rebellion without which, the Morlocks win.
I am not saying that these are improper values, but I'm disagreeing with Shakespeare when he says that the quality of mercy is not [con]strained. Mercy does not come cheap. It comes out of the goodness of a well-fed heart. And we must always be aware of how to feed those hearts, and at what price they are defended. When it comes to the care bear extremes, we enable the defensive Beast.
I remain in the middle of my re-reading of the Baroque Cycle, just having finished a Tom Clancy and the new Seal Team Six memoir of Wasdin. I know why I'm harsh. But I wonder if such nosy moral dainty people know how much they need harsh troops.
We know what causes people to doubt the existence of God, or grace, or human kindness. But we should also and equally understand what give people strength from those same things. We are naturally reactive and accepting of all of the qualities of human character. What's troublesome is the idea that we can engineer it for any size society, when in fact we cannot.
I want you to think about nationalism and patriotism, and I want you to doubt it for a moment. In fact, I want you to understand how a built-up aversion to nationalism and patriotism works in your favor. It's a bit counter-intutitive, but it depends upon your actual independence. I want you to imagine that you are a millionaire and that you don't care about patriotism - rather like George Soros but not so extreme. Some terrorist destroys the Statue of Liberty. Your reaction is indifference. What you will be is one vote in favor of not engaging the wrath of 150 million Americans. Do you get it? The Statue of Liberty means nothing to you because you don't need it. You need almost nothing from those things America promises to Jane Doe. Your identity is not wrapped up in such small gifts. Your byline is 'What do you mean we?'
You don't want Sam Jackson to torture the terrorist. You don't want the state to execute the murderer. You don't want the cop to shoot the bank robber. You don't want the vice principle to swat the bully. You don't want any part of any of that violence that gives the masses any sense of cohesion or safety. You want nothing to do with that world that delivers small comforts to small people. You've got your John Donne twisted.
Do you see how this kind of individualism works in the world? I see it as the same sort of extreme philosophy that asks for only mercy, gentle forebearance and kindness. I say we must be judgmental in all things large and small. We must be prepared for the whole man and so we must be whole men. We cannot disengage when things get ugly, there is not always some proxy to defend us in principle.
So I've fallen out of love with the Fuji X100 and in love with the Olympus E-P3, but I still have a long way to go in figuring out how I justify spending 900 bucks on a camera. Things were much easier when the kids were little and you could satisfy them with small toys. But today my daughter is thinking photography will be her thing. She collects photos and graphics from all over the web and posts them to her blog, so I want to help develop in her a sophisticated eye. But I think it's going to be expensive.
We went to Samy's in Culver City last weekend and found for a modest $150 the great film camera bodies of old. Nikon and Canon 35mm SLRs. I reminesced. The guy behind the counter didn't take my bait - he wasn't in the mood to talk technical about the differences between this and that camera. Basically, if you're not going to spend 1000 bucks your choices are pretty limited and you can't expect a 60 year old man to give a snort. Within 20 seconds of me opening my mouth, he ran off into the back and brought back the $500 Canon Rebel Jr or some such, with all the lines on his face saying, OK just buy this now.
Oh no, I'm not going to buy it now, I'm just wanting to put my hands on the thing so I can connect that to my online shopping and research experience, I shot back with the lines on my face. You are inferior to Amazon, that is unless you talk to me and explain the minute technical differences. But the fact of the matter is that we went in cold and had no real sophisticated questions. We were just nimrods wasting everybody's time. But now I'm armed with two technical terms that I can throw around and be a further jerk the next time I go.
Bokeh is the characteristic of items in frame in the secondary focus area. Good bokeh gives such objects a soft blur, bad bokeh gives them an edgy blur. Chromatic aberration (is when) the edges of objects look prismified.
In my mind's eye, my daughter is staring at negatives on a light table with one of those magnifiying jobbies that look like an upside down shot glass. In reality I can sense the need for a $1500 monitor for her new Apple computer and a ghastly amount of expensive software, on top of the 900 bucks for the camera I'm buying for me but allowing her to use. I can't put a price on the experience of passing along what I know about photgraphy, but everybody I need to buy something from can, and they will.
I watched a couple videos which have completely demystified what goes on in a darkroom. I cannot believe how boring that is. It took 20 minutes to kill a lifetime romance with red lights and mysterious liquid-filled trays. Now that's done, I'm all about the digital. (Sigh)
I wanted to put up the final, now that I've gotten my hands on it, document in evidence against the long from brith certificate. Download BirtherObama_LFBC_Report_final_draft
I skimmed a tiny bit of it. There is nothing that I would trust as a high security matter, precisely because I am not aware that there was a digital signature made for the document as it was put into the public domain. So as far as I know, the whole matter is hearsay. If you know something to the contrary and can point out THE document published in a way as secure as software you would put on your machine..
BTW, The signature for this file is:
MD5 (BirtherObama_LFBC_Report_final_draft.pdf) = e3a6e6c0005058133ef1e4c7e0b79d32
Today means small things in practice, and great ideas in theory. Great ideas that a large number of us do not fully understand. We pursue without really grasping the ideal of happiness. But we are happy enough.
I used to spend a great deal of time puzzling over what America is, how it operates, what it means. But it was only when I started to read more philosophy and history that I came to a reasonable conclusion. That conclusion is that we are a people more wed to our history than we know, and that history is of a more elevated character than we say. So we complain. We are people who have time to complain, meaning we are not defeated and we expect better for ourselves.
This morning I picked out a paragraph from The Root, a publication of constant complaint. In The Root's consistency, they have re-published an article from one year ago today saying that it is just as relevant:
What, to a black American in the age of Barack Obama, is the Fourth of July? I answer: the day that reveals to him, more than any other, how much America owes to blacks and their struggle for freedom. If it hadn't been for people like Frederick Douglass, this would not be a country worth living in. The lofty ideals of the Founding Fathers would have been no more than stirring but empty rhetoric.
What I understand about this is the rigor with which my generation of black Americans view the world through the lens of inherited Struggle. We have aggregated every pain and triumph into an existential philosophy of lure and loathing. America. What does it mean for *us*? That is the question we love to endlessly turn in our heads. To settle for an answer that does not result in some strain of complaint is to admit a false comfort. We have in America, a permanent home as symbols of man's inhumanity to man, and it is such a powerful symbol that it is unlikely to ever be eclipsed. Except of course that our Spartacus has become Ceasar.
We might have spent an eternity, were it not for Obama, speaking of Martin Luther King, Louis Armstrong, and Sojourner Truth. We might have spent 10 political seasons, were it not for Obama, speaking of Michael Steele, Colin Powell and Ward Connerly. All these proxies of fate, will in time, fade from significance, because of what America actually is, and who we actually are in it. Americans are only believers in the creed of liberty. That is all we ever were and it is all we ever will be. We are devotees, no matter where our location, to a set of clear ideas that we uphold like a flag in the wind only pointed with fleeting accuracy at its North Star. Whenever we tire, someone else picks it up, and the march continues.
It has been a long time since I've listened to Premature Autopsies. But I never forget its observation that nobility can come from anywhere.
Some people might ask, "What is this man doing talking about nobility? Doesn’t he know that this is a dragon-spawned and blood-encrusted century? Doesn’t he know that the dragon breath of our time is breathing down the neck of the year 2000? Doesn’t he know that this is the era of flash and cash?" I will say to them that the interwoven labyrinths of greed and manipulation are as old as the FIRST lie, When you lie you are trying to manipulate; and when you try to manipulate for false profit, you reveal your greed; and when you swallow that dragon dust cooperatively you reveal yourself as a chump, a sucker, one of those folks Barnum said was born every minute. But I will answer them also by saying that nobility is always born somewhere out there in the world, and when you live in a democratic nation you have to face the mysterious fact that nobility has no permanent address, you hove to face the fact that nobody has nobility’s private phone number. Nobility is not listed in the phone book. Nobility is not listed in the society column, nobility shows up where it feels like showing up, and where it feels like showing up might be just about anywhere. If it could rise like a mighty light from among the human livestock of the plantation, you know it can come from anywhere it wants to. You see, nobility is listed though. Yes, it is listed. Nobility lists itself in the human spirit, and its purpose is to enlist the ears of the listeners in the bittersweet song of spiritual concerns.
That doesn't sound like a complaint when you read it, but when you hear it played to the accompanyment of the New Orleans dirge in the cadence and accents of the black minister then you know - it is the bittersweet song of spiritual concerns.
I am constantly reminded of the irony of those backhanded compliments such as the Root constantly replays when speaking of the Founders. You don't often hear many such complaining African Americans speak of their duties to lead with love the ever benighted white boys. The word 'us' is not often enough broadly employed. What does today mean to all of us? That is the question that should be turning constantly in our heads. If we were to forget all of the foolish self-serving rhetoric of identity, then we might recognize how many of the world's people believe in the creed of liberty.
I have brought my family to reside at the coast of the Pacific. When I was climbing my mountain, my throat was dry. When I reached the peak and saw the promised land, the waters of justice were still frozen in the snow. I recognized them for what they were and did not resent their color. Soon I saw the trickle, the stream, the mighty river, and I joined with all to find the mighty sea. I remember when I was parched and climbing, but I was destined as are all men, to rest here. We are not truly Americans until we believe in liberty and justice for all.
The news is that some supreme court, perhaps even the Supreme Court wrote an opinion that generally stays regulating and censorious hands from videogame production. In general, and in keeping with my political orientation, that's the sort of opinion I like and live comfortably with. If you don't like the sex and violence in videogames, learn how to fish, you moron. Which is rather like me saying if you don't like Alabama, move to Kentucky - understanding that the argument augers poorly for the government role (or the elite's role) in keeping pornographers in their place, and tough beans if you can't afford a bus ticket to Louisville.
Here's the thing. Have you ever seen real people shooting at each other? How about a compound fracture? Have you ever videotaped ugly people having sex? These are all distasteful matters that serve no narrative purpose. They would be like War TV. The portrayal of sexual or violent acts for the purposes of entertainment are very different from the real thing. We could probably air several seasons worth of Mythbusters on porno alone. While the research is still out for establishing some Clockwork Orange standard of human revulsion, there is something that I know to be true. There are things that we might watch that will give us the creeps and by them we will know immediately what is off limits.
Let us call that moment disgust.
In fact there is research on the human emotion of disgust, and if I've read that small bit I've encountered correctly, we associate disgust with either anger or fear. Both of these emotions, according to that research are correlated with harsher moral judgment. When we are angry or afraid, we tend to be more harsh judges - like the intimidated poor woman in the nice shop who more harshly hushes her child.
So does the offensive portrayal of sex make you angry or fearful? Do you want to go in and slap that person or do you shudder and screw up your face? Eww! That's disgusting. Does looking at it make you want to vomit? Interesting how morality is informed by your physical reaction.
Every true gamer will remember the first time playing the legendary Call of Duty recreation of the Normandie invasion. You get killed so many times over such a short period that it breaks your expectation of the powers you are expected to have in a videogame entertainment. The same is true of Silent Hill, a horror title that was perfectly uneventful for a good 15 minutes of gameplay, lulling you into a false sense of security but keeping you tingly all the while. In San Andreas, I resented that the game kept rewarding me for being evil - the only way to win is to do bad, in a purely unsentimental badass fashion. These are variations of extremes that push the envelope. But how often was the experience disgusting?
Well, that depends. Comedian Louis CK cracks wise on 'white people complaining'. The man who whines that the Starbucks barista has got his coffee order wrong. The situation in which people can gain sympathy for having their airplane flights delayed. I too am very much aggravated by the whining of the dainty. In fact they disgust me more often than not.
I say we are obligated to criminalize that which is immoral to the extent that it is reasonable to police society. In our history of common law, I think we have a fair handle on what kind of sexual or violent behavior requires us to call the cops. Beyond that, I'm afraid that other social institutions and individuals have fallen down on their jobs. And it is a right and a good thing to bemoan that failure, but that doesn't make it appropriate to add a greater burden on policing.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been indulging the warrior sentiment. The last book I finished was the new SEAL Team Six memoir of Wasdin from Georgia. Just before that was the extraordinary King of the Vagabonds and now I'm a third way through the latest Tom Clancy. Last night I watched True Grit. All of this is making me wonder what the point of feminism is in our civilization.
True Grit has one of the most extraordinary characters I've seen, Mattie Ross a fourteen year old girl out to avenge the murder of her father. Smart as a whip, crafty and headstrong she is a gal of grit herself. But in each of her bold actions in the Wild West, there is a power behind her words that come indirectly from the barrel of a gun. She threatens with a lawyer. She employs with money. She understands her claims. True Grit does a great deal of justice to the genre of the Western which, I think my generation never learned. We have outsourced the word of the warrior to Bruce Lee and his descendants, the Kung Fu film. Steven Segal never made it. Jet Li did. And so what we mistake for something Asian, courage, honor and determination is something we had in Westerns all along. I didn't quite know it until I started watching the best John Wayne films, the finest being Red River, and in this, the Coen Brothers remake, the workings of honor and deceit are sparkling.
Mattie Ross was not made for the trail, nor for hunting down fugitives in Indian territory. She was made for exemplifying and enforcing those edifications our civilization and our human nature demands. Sobriety, honesty, thrift, industry.
We have made another mistake. That is to call the tyrannical forces that array to stifle our freedoms in masculine terminology. Our enemy is not Big Brother, but Big Mother. In every way that we might conceive as artfully as the Coen Brothers have presented, a woman child leading two bickering bounty hunters on a mission of deadly revenge, we are reminded of the tyranny of order, logic and justice which is so often pursued against our lazy wills. There is no romance in it. It is as searingly compelling as the demand of a child for protection against monsters.
There is something useful in us, I suspect, that resists duty. I am reminded of Aaron from Titus Andronicus. The world is upside down often enough that slacking is equally often the best protector of our souls. Moral discipline is exhausting and its rewards are inconsistent. We too should be so inconsistent so as not to grow completely weary of seeking those rewards.
It has been said that a soldier's experience of war can be accurately characterized as long periods of interminable boredom interspersed with moments of extreme terror. That sounds about right. And so too it is not romantic. We have been inundated with myths of warrior mentalities - of constant vigilance. Let us put that myth to bed. There is nothing for it. Constant vigilance is the enemy. It is paranoia. It is Big Mother.
Instead let us be the periodically brilliant but generally sated lion. Let us enjoy our rest and let things go to shit while we snooze. We'll wake up and clean up, but now we relent. I think it is more manly.
I'm on vacation this week.
Together, we must confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons and the outlaw states, terrorists, and organized criminals seeking to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade and much of his nation's wealth not on providing for the Iraqi people but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly remarkable job finding and destroying more of Iraq's arsenal than was destroyed during the entire Gulf war. Now Saddam Hussein wants to stop them from completing their mission.
I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein, "You cannot defy the will of the world," and when I say to him, "You have used weapons of mass destruction before. We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again."
President Bill Clinton
January 27, 1998
Government will be hacked.
It will only be a matter of time before some anonymous cabal of hackers with the sort of philosophical bearing that lends itself to Rebublican morality will hack various parts of the American government. There will be a reckoning. It will work to our advantage on one condition. That its perpetrators stand up after the deed is done and submit themselves to the inevitable trial.
Like most sensible people, I believe that Julian Assange is a cad and that Bradley Manning is a dupe, and that both of them are, for different reasons, criminals. Similarly, I believed that the Unabomber was a crackpot terrorist. But there are uses, in the hands of the capable good, for the excesses of those capable of obscene acts. And of course, man's passions will not be restrained. In other words, it's still possible to win a war.
I find it difficult to believe that our government, run as it is by some of the most conniving snakes ever, could be unassailable by those capable of stealing millions of credit cards. The vulnerabilities are surely well known. But I would offer that few of these hackers have ever considered the political applications of their skills at length, or those that have to date have been hopelessly naive.
So I speculate that there must be some clever schemes incubating yet unhatched which would expose the duplicity of those public servants we despise and that in time one of these schemes will spark a political uprising. We can only hope that what they expose will be significantly damning and of serious import, moreso than the emails of Sarah Palin or the the little black book of John Edwards.