Friday, December 20, 2013

The Christmas Open Mic.

I'm officially outta here for a minute. Here's the open mic. Ya'll have a great holiday.

Unlike Me, Kanye West Is (Clearly) Not A Washington Wizards Fan.

For the record, as a guy who paid good money to suffer through The Jordan Years, I really wish MJ had never played for the Wizards either. Kanye, why did you allow this to happen? Why?

I know people joke about Kanye a lot, but this is pretty darn brilliant, and it's got a pretty obvious double meaning that anyone who listens closely will pick up on. It's not (just) about MJ, it's about West's very public aspirations (and assorted pains) with trying to break into a fashion industry that won't allow him a genuine level of "ownership". Or maybe that's just me reading waaay too deeply into this.

Of course, there are a couple of factual inaccuracies here. Jordan didn't "own" the Wizards any more than Magic "owned" the Lakers, or Jay-Z "owned" the Nets. They were all equity partners, but hey, why let that ruin a good rant?

One thing he's 100% correct about. He did indeed "have to put on a motherf*ckin' Wizards jersey!!!!" and he never, ever should have.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What I Learned Over A Month (Or So) As A Non-Black Anoymous Internet Commenter.

A month (or so) ago, I changed my ubiquitous avatar from a cartoonish approximation of my handsome real life visage, to a race neutral cartoonish approximation of a guy holding an American Flag. I also ditched my screen name, making it something fairly generic ("A/B") as well.

[Editor's Note: This piece likely has a million and one grammatic and spelling errors. I'm not proofreading it, nor fixing them. Mostly because I'm lazy. And also, because #science. Don't let that deter you.]

The point of this was to see if my opinions would be responded to more readily if people weren't initially forming their rebuttal with my race in mind. It was a social experiment of sorts, but it was also an acknowledgement that I get tired of being accused of being an unemployed welfare moocher with 6 illegitimate kids by people who don't know me when I'm merely trying to debate the finer points of the Afforable Care Act with some stranger on Mediaite.

There's no denying that people are more apt to repond in a different manner online that when in person. And there's likewise no doubt that people are going to form opinions of you based on ther sole appearance related item (an avatar) that you typically present online. Heck, people respond based on their (perceived) level of safety.

Tell em, Louis CK.[1]

After doing this for a month, I changed my avatar and screen name back today. I wish I could present you guys a more scientific analysis of what I learned via this little experiement, but it's close to the holidays, and I'm lazy and whatnot, so this will have to suffice.
People (Initially) Treated Me Much Better And Didn't Just (Initially) Outright Dismiss My Opinion - To be certain, I didn't change the nature of my typical comment on any of the sites I typically weigh in on. I don't usually identify myself as black when I comment either, unless the subject calls for that, and I never did so during this month. Not once in my generic avi experiment was I accused of being on The Welfare or getting SNAP benefits. Being a "liberal" and an ObamaBot, sure. But nothing racial. Ever. And I found fellow commenters far more likely to engage in debate, rather than just dismissing me. Hmmmmmm.

I Never Got "Outed" - You'd think people would just click on my profile, see the link to my site, and figure out I was a black guy. Didn't happen. I'm not shocked either, because most people don't have that kinda time.

I'm Not Surprised By Any Of This, Nor Do I Really Think It's A Problem. - There is racism in America. That's a fact, despite whatever Fox News might suggest. It just is what it is, and I don't think it's going away anytime soon. To police their comment boards, a lot of news sites are now requiring comments to be posted via Facebook accounts, in an attempt to limiting trolls and anonymous comments. The thought is that if people have to put their real name and face beside what they're saying they'll likely be more considerate and thus more civil.[2] As a guy who has made his name via a largely anonymous online persona, you might guess where I fall on this topic.
All in all, this results of this experiment weren't really suprising. I long assumed people lobbed racist comments at me because I was black, and that was essentially confirmed. And I don't really know if my life's any better for wear with that bit of information.

Question: What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you also find people online respond to you based on assumptions formed via your avatar/screen name?

[1] Speaking of appearance-based stereotypes, I slept on this guy for the longest because I assumed I wouldn't find his style of comedy very relatable. I was completely wrong. I don't know if I agree with the "genius" label many people fling at him, but seriously, this dude is absolutely hilarious.

[2] See the comedy clip again, just for reinforcement of this concept.

Crude Rap Lyrics, Read By Middle Schoolers.

This video is going viral, so I'm goin' it. And I (sorta) get the point here. They're basically trying to slut shame black people into not using the N-Word. That tactic is okay, because I think it's a sign of ignorance and shouldn't be used by anyone.

But seriously, given all the recent debates about who should be able to use the word (and considering who still purchases 75% of rap music), shouldn't there be at least one white kid in this video? Isn't that at least some small part of the problem?

For the record, I don't use the word nigger. I do love ignorant assed rap music though, and I take every possible safeguard to ensure my kids don't even know such music exists. My 5 year old couldn't pick Beyonce out of a police lineup, but he loves Laurie Berkner and the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. #parenting

My point is, I don't think this video is effective beyond the initial shock of hearing a little girl say "I love bad bitches that's my fuckin problem". Would the sort of parent who lets their kid listen to non-radio cuts of 2 Chainz re-evaluate their place in life after watching this? Prolly not.

And again, where the hell the white kids at!?!?

Question: What do you think? As a parent, how (if at all) do you monitor what your kids listen to?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

George Zimmerman: Impressionist Era Painter.

Just file this one under "Only In America".
George W. Bush isn’t the only famous person named George developing a brand new career as a painter. That’s right, the first-ever painting by George Zimmerman appeared on eBay this week and it’s really something. With the subject listed as “America,” Zimmerman’s moody depiction of the flag comes complete with the words “One Nation” literally under the word “God”:

Zimmerman included his own description of the piece, for which the bidding is currently up to a whopping $99,966.00 and rising, with all proceeds going directly to the pocket of the man who was acquitted after shooting and killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. He writes:

First hand painted artwork by me, George Zimmerman. Everyone has been asking what I have been doing with myself. I found a creative, way to express myself, my emotions and the symbols that represent my experiences. My art work allows me to reflect, providing a therapeutic outlet and allows me to remain indoors :-) I hope you enjoy owning this piece as much as I enjoyed creating it. Your friend, George Zimmerman

Lest you think this is some hilariously bizarre hoax, the new painter’s brother, Robert Zimmerman, Jr. confirmed that the auction is real and that “therealgeorgez,” as the eBay username reads is actually George Zimmerman.
For those keeping score at home, when I last checked, a black woman whose heroism singlehandedly spared the lives of hundreds of children raised roughly the same amount after 3 months. Zimmerman's "work of art" has 98 bids since yesterday. Yesterday.

I'm not disparaging Zimmerman's need to make a living. It is what it is. The guy's life (for reasons he entirely bought upon himself) will never be the same, and short of working for the NRA on phone sex line, I couldn't imagine any "real job" he could find to support himself.

But I can't help but wonder what is says about our country when a man who kills a black child is valued more than a woman who saves them.

Question: What's your thought on this? Who buys a George Zimmerman oil painting anyway?

Friday, December 13, 2013

SNL (Finally) Hires A Black Woman.

As one of the only two black people (my wife's the other) in America that still watches Saturday Night Live, I can't explain how excited I am to hear about this.
"Saturday Night Live" plans to add one or two black female performers to its cast as soon as January.

A representative for the NBC sketch-comedy show on Thursday confirmed reports it's answering complaints about its lack of diversity by staging showcases to choose at least one black female cast member and to hire her within weeks.

In recent weeks, the show has seen two dozen candidates in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

The New York Times reported that a special audition for seven or eight finalists will be held Monday on the "SNL" stage in Manhattan. It's "100 percent good for the show to have an African-American woman" in its ranks, executive producer Lorne Michaels told the Times.

Criticism for the show's lack of diversity was spurred this fall by its only black cast members, Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson. Thompson voiced weariness at being obliged to play black female characters in drag. Pharoah lobbied for the addition of a specific comic, Darmirra Brunson, of the OWN sitcom "Love Thy Neighbor."

"SNL" has had just four black women in its regular troupe since premiering in 1975, with the last one, biracial Maya Rudolph, leaving in 2007.

Days later, the show poked fun at itself for having no black women among its 16 regular cast members, with Kerry Washington, the star of "Scandal," as guest host.

At the top of the show, an "SNL" producer apologized for the number of black female characters Washington would need to play that night.
I sorta hope they hire two black women. Mostly because two would be awesome. Also, because if there's only one, that sista is gonna have to be the Jackie Robinson of sketch comedy to overcome the scrutiny of being labelled an "Affirmative Action Hire". Funny how the critics alleged that SNL couldn't find any funny black women because there simply weren't any, then the show easily found a few dozen to audition. Whatever.

This being America and all, I hope this will end well but predict it won't. While SNL is pretty good about quickly identifying and elevating their preferred "stars" (Cecily Strong and Taran Killam are clearly being groomed from this current cast), it's also very blatant and downright cruel about burying those whom it deems replaceable (see Jerry Minor and Dean Edwards for notable black male examples).

Whatever. I'm just glad the show can now acknowledge the existence of a black FLOTUS. Sure, it's only about 5 years late, but hey...

Question: Do you even watch SNL? If so, what do you think about the show's lack of diversity? Will this black woman have a hard time from the jump? Friday The 13th NewsBriefs.

It's Friday the 13th! Time for some cheesy horror movies, pointless superstition, and choice linkage...
‘Affluenza’: Rich Teen Gets Light Sentence for Murder After Claiming He’s Not Used to Consequences [Mediaite] - Seriously, if this isn't evidence that there are truly two Americas, I don't know what is.

Firm that employed fake interpreter at Mandela service has ‘vanished’ [WashPost] - How in the heck does something like this happen? How does a fake interpreter (who was once charged with MURDER!) get within arms length of the President? What the heck was the Secret Service doing?

As House passes budget deal, Boehner criticizes tea party [WashPost] - So TanMan and Co finally decide to put their boots down and tell the Tea Party where to take their tyrannical asses. Personally, I think this is about 4 years too late, but whatever. What's hilarious is that the GOP seems to think this will help their case in 2014. It won't.

U.S. considers cellphones on flights but no calls [WashPost] - I'm glad some common sense prevailed. So you won't have to worry with some moron sitting next to you jabbering on the cell phone your whole flight. You will have to watch that moron Skype, which is another issue altogether.

Insisting Jesus Was White Is Bad History and Bad Theology [TheAtlantic] - I couldn't have said this better myself.

Mega Millions Jackpot Hits $400 Million [Time] - Yeah, I played. You?
Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What If Santa Claus (And Jesus) Was Black?!?

I don't even know how to adequately describe this idiocy, courtesy of (who else?) Fox News. There's whitewashing, and then there's WHITEWASHING!!!! For people who profess to know everything about the Bible, you'd think they'd have a slightly better understanding of what the bible actually says about Jesus' appearance, and how the predominant image of Jesus we all have accepted as "Jesus" came into existence.

Eff' a Santa Claus. We know that was based on St. Nick and whatnot. I'm not nearly as concerned about that.

Whatever, why try to make sense of nonsense. "Jesus JUST IS WHITE", says Megyn Kelly. And Megyn Kelly has a law degree and sits in a leg chair. Take her word as the proverbial gospel. Or don't. Whatever.

Question: What are your thoughts on this? Amateur theologians, here's your time to shine. Go for it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Of Black Presidents, Funeral Etiquette & Selfies.

As we enter the 6th year of this Black President thing, it's clear many segments of America will never, ever, ever get over what happened on January 21st, 2009. While I'm a retired far from a Barack Obama Apologist nowadays, even the most ardent Conservative has gotta admit that the sheer volume of Obama Outrage has far outpaced that of Bush Derangement Syndrome, and much of it has been downright trivial. I mean, seriously, from the Mom Jeans, to the Nobel Prize, to the failed Oympics bid, to Common, to faux "czars", to Skip Gates, to indoctrination of schoolchildren, to Obama Civilian Military Corps, to American Flag lapel pins, to the Annual Vacation Outrage, it's been a relentless cavalcade or pointless sh*t. When the POTUS' detractors do have a somewhat valid issue (the IRS scandal,, the NSA) it's hard to take them so seriously. I believe there's an Aesop's fable that sorta describes this dynamic, but Conservatives have probably had Aesop's Fables removed from public libraries for some reason or another by now.

So yeah, add two incidents from the President's overnight trip to South Africa to that seemingly neverending list.
US President Barack Obama may have moved the masses attending Nelson Mandela's memorial service with his stirring eulogy, but it was his grinning "selfie" with the Danish and British premiers that set social networks abuzz.

In a candid moment captured by AFP photographer Roberto Schmidt, Denmark's Helle Thorning-Schmidt can be seen holding up her smartphone, with Obama lending a helping hand, as they pose for a picture with David Cameron, all three of them smiling broadly in their seats at Soweto's World Cup stadium.

First Lady Michelle Obama, sitting to the left of her husband, does not join in with the lightheartedness, keeping her eyes firmly trained on the podium where world leaders were paying tribute to South Africa's anti-apartheid hero Mandela, who died Thursday aged 95. The so-called selfie -- short for self-portrait -- was quickly picked up by major international news outlets and went viral on social media sites, with many questioning whether the moment of mirth was appropriate for the occasion.

"There should be a moratorium on 'selfies' during memorials and funerals, no?" tweeted @JeffryHalverson.

"Is This The Most Important Selfie Of 2013?" headlined the US-based social news website Buzzfeed, noting that Michelle Obama seemed "not amused" by the impromptu photoshoot.

A photo of the leaders photographing themselves was featured on the front pages of British media such as The Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror.

In the United States, the Washington Post also ran the photo of the trio on its website in a story on that incident and Obama shaking hands at the service with Cuban leader Raul Castro. It was not on the front page but rather in the Politics section. It noted the viral trajectory of the photo.

"All of it serves as a reminder ? as if we needed one ? that even the best-laid plans of politicians tend to veer wildly off course in this age of social media," the Post story said.

Cameron's Downing Street office said it had "no comment" on the photo, while the White House also made no comment. There was no immediate reaction from Copenhagen. The act of taking selfies has become increasingly popular in recent years. The word itself was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.

A selfie is defined as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website". The AFP photographer who captured the leaders in their group shot said his picture showed the dignitaries in a rare unscripted moment.

"It was interesting to see politicians in a human light because usually when we see them it is in such a controlled environment. Maybe this would not be such an issue if we, as the press, would have more access to dignitaries and be able to show they are human as the rest of us," he said.

But Schmidt said he feared the photo's global impact could overshadow what was "a celebration for an obviously exceptional person".

"The AFP team worked hard to display the reaction that South African people had for the passing of someone they consider as a father. We moved about 500 pictures, trying to portray their true feelings, and this seemingly trivial image overshadowed everything else," he said. "I think it's a sad reflection on how sometimes we focus, as a society, on trivial everyday happenings."
Let's admit a couple of things first off: no, the optics of taking a selfie at a funeral aren't great. And no, the President wasn't the one actually taking the selfie. He seemed to be asked by the Danish Premier who sat next to him. So whatever, if you wanna turn this into something bigger than just that, go right ahead.[1]

One issue with all of this is that this wasn't your typical funeral. Not even remotely.

That's not a soccer game. That's a memorial service. Those people weren't exactly mourning. Those people were turnt the f*ck up.

So yeah, context sorta kinda matters here. This was a joyous occasion, one that seemingly everyone got into.

Of course, everyone's not Obama, but whatever.

Question: Is this more random Obama Outrage?

[1] What's up with Michelle tho?!?

What's Up With Michelle Obama?!?

Bonus Beats from the prior post.
The photographer who snapped the picture of President Barack Obama taking a “selfie” at the memorial for former South African President Nelson Mandela said Wednesday that there was nothing wrong with what the president did, and it seemed “perfectly natural” because of the festive atmosphere at the service.

“For me, the behavior of these leaders in snapping a selfie seems perfectly natural,” AFP photographer Roberto Schmidt wrote in a blog post.

Obama, who was photographed grinning for the selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt during the memorial service Tuesday, has been slammed by some on the right for what they consider inappropriate behavior during a memorial service. Rush Limbaugh, for instance, said Tuesday that Obama was “thinking about himself.”

But Schmidt dismissed these attacks and said he didn’t think about the impact his own photo would have.

“At the time, I thought the world leaders were simply acting like human beings, like me and you,” the photographer wrote, describing the huge crowd as celebratory, rather than mournful. “I see nothing to complain about and probably would have done the same in their place.”

He also sought to dispel social media commentary that first lady Michelle Obama “seemed to be rather peeved” with Thorning-Schmidt because of her expression and glaring eyes in the photo.

“Photos can lie,” the photographer wrote, who noted first lady Michelle Obama was joking herself moments earlier with the leaders and others around her. “Her stern look was captured by chance.”

Cameron also addressed the selfie on Wednesday, saying it was initiated by Thorning-Schmidt.

“When a member of the Kinnock family asked me for a photograph, I thought it was only polite to say yes,” Cameron said, as quoted by Huffington Post, which notes the Danish prime minister is the daughter-in-law of former U.K. Labour leader, Neil Kinnock.
More pics, along with some commentary that I largely agree with.

So yeah, move right along. Nothing to see here. Actually...
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz walked out of the memorial service for Nelson Mandela during Cuban President Raul Castro’s speech, according to reports.

“Sen. Cruz very much hopes that Castro learns the lessons of Nelson Mandela,” said a Cruz spokeswoman, as quoted by ABC News. “For decades, Castro has wrongly imprisoned and tortured countless innocents. Just as Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, Castro should finally release his political prisoners. He should hold free elections, and once and for all, set the Cuban people free.”

The Texas senator, who is of Cuban descent, was part of a congressional delegation that traveled to South Africa for the memorial service on Tuesday.
Staging a "walkout" in advance, and having your staff send out a press release explaing that "walkout". Classy. Gotta hand it to Ted Cruz. The man can never resist an opportunity to make everything (even a memorial service!) about himself.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 Open Mic 12.10.13.

Like most people in the Mid-Atlantic region, we're snowed/iced in right now. So yeah, the blog's a little low on the priority list and whatnot. If you wanna come over and help me shovel out, I'm taking all volunteers.

Anyways, here's your blank slate. Fill it with something.

Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo.

Rest In Peace, Nelson Mandela.

The ceremony was this morning. Yeah, I'm late. I know. Chime in with your thoughts, wishes, and riffs below.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 Tuesday Open Mic.

I'm busy today. Lots of "quick" new posts below. Weigh in there.

Anyways, here's your blank slate. Fill it with something.

Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo. Might Be The Worst Rollout Since New Coke.

I haven't really weighed in on the botched implementation of ObamaCare much, because... seriously, what is there to say? A terrible contractor was hired to do the job, those responsible for holding the contractor accountable ignored every blatant red flag that arose, and to the surprise of nobody who works in the software/IT field, the site came out with a million bugs. There's nothing here to defend. When you're introducing a once-in-a-generation government program, you should probably make sure your QA team has done their job first, or simply delay the rollout. The President has taken the requisite battering in approval polls as a result. Again, nothing to defend here, ObamaBots. The sky is blue. Bears crap in the woods. A bad rollout is a bad rollout. Period.

With a 2nd deadline apparently just reached, you'd assume the problems of are over. Nope.
The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month.

The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials. The White House disputed the figure but declined to provide its own.

The mistakes include failure to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies. The errors have been accumulating since opened two months ago, even as the Obama administration has been working to make it easier for consumers to sign up for coverage, the government and industry officials said.

Figuring out how to clean up the backlog of errors and prevent similar ones in the future is emerging as the new imperative if the federal insurance exchange is to work as intended. The problems were the subject of a meeting Monday between administration officials and a new “Payer Exchange Performance Team” made up of insurance industry leaders.

Some of the errors in the past forms were generated by the way people were using the system, another senior official on the project said, such as clicking twice on the confirmation button or moving backward and forward on the site.

Through more than a dozen bug fixes over the past week, the team has managed to reduce the instances of when data was not generated on 834 forms from 3 percent last week to 0.5 percent now, according to senior officials.

The heightened attention to enrollment errors follows a five-week technical blitz to improve consumers’ ability to use the site.

Federal health officials announced Sunday that they had met that goal. By 6 p.m. Monday, the Web site had had close to 800,000 unique visitors — one of the administration’s targets for the site’s performance — and was set to pass that mark by the end of the day, according to administration officials. And the site processed 18,000 enrollments in the most recent 24-hour period, nearly double the previous record.

Still, not all was smooth. By mid-morning Monday, some Americans trying to use the Web site were running into a logjam. And by late morning, when the number of people on the site was roughly 35,000 — or 15,000 fewer than administration officials had said it could handle — some consumers encountered a “queue,” a new feature intended for times when the site was too crowded. The feature limits the number of people on the site and notifies others by e-mail when it’s a better time to log in.
As a guy who (sorta) does this kinda stuff for a living, it's rather infuriating to watch the level of incompetence and excuse-making here. Either the site works, or it doesn't. And it should have been fully tested well before it was made public. That didn't happen, and it's casting a huge shadow over the many legitimate ACA success stories thus far.

Question: Which product had the worst rollout? ObamaCare of The New Coke?

The GOP Claims Racism Is Over. And Rosa Parks Was A Republican. Or Something.

So yeah, about that whole "expanding the tent" thing.... how's that workin' out for ya'?!?
If nothing else, the Republican National Committee has gotten people thinking about Rosa Parks.

Of course, the RNC also gave its political opponents a chance to mock the GOP with its poorly worded tweet Saturday marking the 58th anniversary of the African-American civil rights activist's refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person, an event that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.

"Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism," read the tweet that caused Twitter rage, triggering a snark avalanche on the RNC's alleged cluelessness about racism's continued existence.

The RNC acknowledged the problem hours later: "Previous tweet should have read 'Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.'"

In other words, we get it, was the RNC's message.

Orlando Watson, RNC communications director for black media, told me that the flawed tweet was preceded by a longer statement. That statement accurately reflected the reality of race relations since 1955.

While the gaffe was relatively minor, it plays into the damaging narrative about the Republican Party — that it only pays lip service to the notion of increasing its appeal to minority voters. Indeed, from voter ID to immigration, the party is widely viewed as hostile to minority voters. So the tweet fit a stereotype about the party.

It's the same weakness the GOP's "Growth and Opportunity Project" — also known as its post-2012 general election "autopsy" — spoke to. Even some high-profile African-Americans like J.C. Watts, the former congressman from Oklahoma, have conceded that the party's efforts, including the GOP project on the minority outreach front, have so far been more rhetoric than reality.

It may be a long time, if ever, before the GOP reaches the point where a misstep like the Rosa Parks tweet isn't read by the left like a Freudian slip. But it's probably more doable than, say, ending racism.
Thank you GOP (and Rosa Parks, I suppose) for ending racism with a Tweet, and thus making this nation truly post-racial!

Question: Which RNC intern is responsible for this, and has he/she been fired yet? If Rosa Parks were alive today, would she be a Conservative like MLK (in the deluded minds of some) would?

Bus-Stopping While Black?!?

I have two sons (as well as a baby girl) and as a resposible parent, I'm trying to groom them to understand how to navigate the world around them. So when I hear stories like this, I don't even know what more to add. Maybe you have something. I... I got nothing.
Three high school teens in Rochester, N.Y., were arrested while they waited for a bus, but authorities claimed the trio was obstructing the flow of other pedestrians on the sidewalk.

On Wednesday morning, Raliek Redd, 16, Wan'Tauhjs Weathers 17, and Daequon Carelock, 16, said they were cuffed before they could board a school bus to a basketball game, according to WHEC.

"We tried to tell them that we were waiting for the bus," Weathers told the station. "We weren't catching a city bus, we were catching a yellow bus. He didn't care. He arrested us anyways."

The Rochester Police did not immediately return a call for comment from The Huffington Post. But a police report obtained by Rochester Homepage said the teens, who attend Edison Tech, were obstructing "pedestrian traffic while standing on a public sidewalk...preventing free passage of citizens walking by and attempting to enter and exit a store."

The report also said the officer who arrested the teens made "clear and concise orders for the group to disperse and leave the area without compliance."

The teens were apprehended in a part of downtown Rochester where business owners have complained about teens loitering and fighting near their stores.

The boys' coach, Jacob Scott unsuccessfully tried to convince the officers to let the players off the hook.

He said an officer told him, "If you don't disperse, you're going to get booked as well,'" Scott said. "I said, 'Sir, I'm the adult. I'm their varsity basketball coach. How can you book me? What am I doing wrong? Matter of fact, what are these guys doing wrong?'"

The teens face disorderly conduct charges, according to a previous report by Rochester Homepage.
Seriously... I... just....

Question: Is there any justification for the actions of the policemen in this story?!?

Monday, November 25, 2013 Thanksgiving Open Mic.

Here's your holiday black slate. Fill it with something.

Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo.

The "Knockout Game". Conservative America's Latest Racial Dogwhistle.

I'm a black male (duh). That being the case, I'm keenly aware that people have perceptions of me from the moment they lay eyes on me. I should have a criminal record. I should have at least 3 baby's mothers. I should be unemployed. I should have dropped out of the 9th grade. I should be able to perform pratically any dance move ever invented. I should have a wicked crossover. I should be feared. Mostly the last one.

Every person of color, but particularly black males, walks the thin line between perception and reality on a daily basis. We see it when we walk into stores and are either routinely ignored or clumsily followed. We see it when we walk down the street and people clutch their purses and in some cases move all the way to the other side of the sidewalk, as if to avoid getting anywhere within reaching distance.[1] We feel it when we sit down on the rental car shuttle bus at the airport and people avoid sitting next to us like the plague. Or Charlotte Bobcats tickets. Take your pick.

So yeah, you learn to just suck this up, or find productive ways of processing it, because if you don't, the anger and frustration that builds up will probably result in you doing something in the first paragraph of this post. Not the crossover dribble thing, the other bad stuff. Cause if misplaced race-anger could help you develop a wicked crossover, I'd be Derrick Rose by now. 2010 Derrick Rose, not the guy who just blew out his knee (again!) and will probably never play another high quality NBA game again.[2]

That said, sometimes perceptions are fueled by reality. And reality is, a whole lot of black men are total and complete f*ck ups who make it really, really difficult for the rest of us trying to walk the straight and narrow. Thus, while this latest Conservative Media Meme called "The Knockout Game" is undoubtedly trumped up and waaaay overblown for dramatic effect[3], there's some truth to this idiocy.
A sick so-called game known as "knockout" -- where teens appear to randomly sucker-punch strangers with the goal of knocking them unconscious with a single blow -- is catching the attention of law enforcement throughout the nation.

The assaults can be fatal. In New Jersey, Ralph Santiago, 46, a homeless man, was walking alone in Hoboken on the night of September 10 when he was suddenly struck from behind, said Hoboken Detective Anthony Caruso.

The blow knocked out Santiago, who had a pre-existing brain injury. He suffered a seizure. The victim's body struck a nearby fence, with part of the wrought iron fence piercing his body and killing him, Caruso said.

Surveillance video in the area showed three teens running from the scene. Two weeks later, police arrested the juveniles and charged them in connection with the killing. Caruso said the attack was unprovoked.

Authorities have reported similar incidents in New York, Illinois, Missouri and Washington.
Much like the "roving bands on black kids beating up innocent white people" at county fairs across the country in 2011, and the spate of "convenience store flash mobs" last year, I suspect this is a case of the media making a relatively small series of completely unrelated incidents into an epidemic for the sake of, well, news. That happens. It's the nature of the beast, but it doesn't mean you're any more or less likely to get walloped by some gang of kids on your way into Trader Joes than you were yesterday. Again, perception/reality.

And you get sh*t like this....

Reality is though, that these morons are out here committing pointless crimes and that's nothing new. It's also nothing to defend, so please, please, please black folks, stop deflecting from the story by (rightfully) pointing out that this "phenomenon" is hardly a solely urban occurrence. We know that already. It is a terrible act, and needs to be dealt with accordining. There's no need to make excuses.

Raise your damn kids already. And if you don't have any, mentor/tutor/coach some, before you get knocked upside the head on your way into Trader Joe's.

Question: Is the Knockout Game yet another example of the media making a mountain out of an anthill, or is this a real and increasing threat to public safety?!?

[1] This sh*t just happened to me today. To. F*cking. Day. I'm 40 years old. Does this sh*t ever stop? Ever?

[2] He won't. Sorry, but there is a limit to how many times you can go under the knife and come back close to your former self. The NBA is littered with guys who "used to be good before knee surgery". So shout out to D-Rose. I'm guessing that contrived and corny "Basketball is Everything" corporate slogan nonsense is gonna be put to a serious real-life test now.

[3] And by "dramatic effect", I mean Because Obama.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Annoying Bluetooth Cell Phone Guy... Coming Soon To A Flight Near You.

I love flying, and I do it frequently. One of the things I really enjoy about air travel is the solitude. Sure, you have people sitting all around you. But if you're like me, you can tune them out with a strategically deployed set of noise cancelling headphones. Sometimes I feel like the idle chatter, but more times than not, I'd just rather not be bothered. Between bootleg movies, video games, naps, and the infamous SkyMall, there's more than enough to keep me preoccupied without engaging in a banal episode of "So who are you and why exactly are you flying in first class?" The FAA's recent decision to allow approved electronic devices for the duration of the flight just made the whole thing even better.

This latest major development in the world of air travel though... because Annoying Bluebooth D-Bag is coming soon to a cabin near you.
The nation’s top telecom regulator is planning to propose allowing passengers to make cellphone calls and use their data plans while on an airliner, officials said Thursday.

The proposed rule change by the Federal Communications Commission would overturn the current ban on using cellphones’ wireless features in mid-flight. Commissioners are set to discuss the rule change in their December meeting.

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration approved the use of tablets and other electronic devices on airliners from gate to gate, but cellular service use was still restricted.

If approved, the new guidelines would let airlines install special equipment to relay wireless signals from the plane to the ground, likely by way of satellite. A similar system already exists in Europe. Last week, the European Commission approved passengers’ use of 3G and 4G data from airplanes.

Cellphone use would still be restricted during takeoffs and landings.
Let's talk about how terrible an idea this is.

People Like Sleeping On Planes - Pretty damn self explanatory. And pretty hard to do with some jerk sitting next to you talking the whole time.

Most Cell Phones Don't Work That High In The Sky - If you've ever accidentally forgotten to put your device in Airplane Mode (wow, that's gonna be an outdated concept soon) then you already know you're gonna see "No Signal" on your phone.

This Is A Grand HuStle, Obviously - How long before some airline comes up with a "quiet cabin" or a "silent phone-free flight" and charges a premium for the convenience?

Here's hoping the FCC uses a little common sense and keeps this not-so-bright idea grounded.

Question: Is this a good idea or a turrible one?

Trey Radel, The "Hip Hop Congressman", Arrested In The Least "Hip Hop" Way Possible.

I don't dabble in recreational drugs. The reasons are many. I don't care for them. I have a family and a Day Job. I'd much rather just play NBA 2K if I wanted an escape from reality.[1] Crack is wack. I could go on, but I suppose you get the point. Still, if I ever did get the urge to procure something to help me get away from it all, I'd prolly be wise enough to use a middle man to carry out the purchase. Why? Because I've listened to more than enough rap music to understand the concept of a weed carrier.

Namely, get someone with far less to lose and far more okay with taking penetentiary chances to obtain and maintain posession of your illicit substances. It's the way reasonably smart people of reasonable means manage to do things that aren't on the up and up without ending up in the clink. I'm pretty sure it's one of the Ten Crack Commandments, but don't quote me on that. I've been listening to more Roy Ayers than Migos lately, but that's another story for another time.

Anyways, Florida Tea Party Congressman Trey Radel, a guy who is some notorious for his knowledge of "classic rap music" clearly hasn't been paying enough attention to lyrics, and finds himself in some serious trouble.
Florida Republican congressman Trey Radel said he would take a leave of absence from Congress and donate his salary to charity after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession. "I'm owning up to my actions. I'm taking responsibility. I'm taking it very publicly," Radel told a group of reporters at a news conference Wednesday night from his Cape Coral, Fla., office.

Radel acknowledged that he had let down his country, his family and southwest Florida residents. "I'm struggling with this disease, but I know that I can overcome it," he added. Earlier in the day, Radel appeared in a Washington, D.C. court and was placed on one year's probation with "minimal supervision." The freshman congressman also admitted to being an addict.

"I've been dealing with this on and off for years. The most important thing is to rely on professionals," Radel told reporters.

Radel, 37, plans to start "intensive inpatient treatment" immediately. In the meantime, the congressman said he would donate his salary to charity, but his offices would stay open. He gave no indication he was going to resign. Radel was the target of an undercover sting operation, prosecutors told the court earlier in the day.

Radel, according to sources, first came on the radar of federal authorities when a suspected cocaine dealer under investigation by a joint Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI task force told agents that one of his customers was the Florida congressman. According to prosecutors, confidential sources told authorities that Radel had purchased cocaine "on several occasions" for his own use, and "on occasion" would share that cocaine with others.

About 10 p.m. on Oct 29, Radel met a confidential source and an undercover law enforcement officer at a Washington restaurant, prosecutors said. At the restaurant, Radel told the two that he had cocaine back at his apartment and said they could go back and use some, according to testimony.

They declined the offer to share coke with Radel, but the undercover officer said he could sell 3.5 grams to Radel, prosecutors said. Outside the restaurant, Radel gave the undercover $260, and then inside a car, the undercover gave Radel the cocaine, according to prosecutors.

When Radel stepped outside of the car, federal authorities approached him. He dropped the bag of cocaine on the street. Radel admitted to authorities that he bought cocaine. Ultimately, he and authorities went back to his apartment, where Radel retrieved another vial of cocaine and gave it to authorities, they told the court.
Lemme guess... Trey Radel's favorite rapper is 8Ball.

Get it? 8Ball? 3.5 grams... awww f*ck it.

I could turn this post into an indictment of Conservatives who preach one thing in public and live otherwise privately, but what's the point? All these guys are ethically shaky. You just don't know it until they get busted. I could also point out that Radel voted in favor of a law that would drug test food stamp recipients, but that's low hanging fruit. I could point out how he's cleverly spinning this as alcohol abuse, not the white pony, but that's just good crisis management. Because we all know Miller Lite is a gateway drug to crack cocaine. Amirite Mayor Rob Ford?!?

Nah, my biggest problem with this guy is how dumb he is. He's a public figure. Did he really think he could just continually buy directly from a dopeman forever? Surely he's watched enough episodes of The Wire to know that low level dealers do one of two things when busted. Either give up their supplier or a big time customer. That's precisely what happened here, and precisely why this moron ain't hip-hop. No matter how many "hip hop mixes" he makes while on taxpayer dollar in his spare time.

Next time, hire a coke-carrier, Trey.

Question: Should this guy step down or get himself some help? Can we blame hip-hop for this also?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Links & Open Mic.

I'm busy. Here's a few links for ya'll to chew on.
Don Lemon Takes on Black Writer for ‘Why I Hate Being a Black Man’ Column [Mediaite]

George Zimmerman Arrested After Disturbance Call [Mediaite]

How to get rich in the new Washington [WashPost]
Anyways, here's your blank slate. Fill it with something.

Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo.

"Smoked Crack, Got His Job Back!"

I'm not into betting but if I was, I would look into 2014 Kentucky Derby betting options before I put money on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford making it to Thanksgiving. T-Dot's walking train wreck just continues to rumble on.
The hits keep coming! Embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford reached a new level of viral infamy when he crashed into a fellow council member. Watch and cringe.

Ford’s downward spiral continued Monday when he plowed into a woman—nearly knocking her over—at a meeting of city council members working to strip him of his remaining powers. Those in attendance at the meeting were heard shouting “Shame! Shame!” at Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack while in office (he said he was drunk) and recently discussed oral sex in graphic terms on live TV. The vote, which a majority of council members have already supported, will cut Mayor McCrack’s office budget by 60 percent and allow his staff to join the deputy mayor.
If you're looking for Horse Betting Action, do that. Ford on the other hand needs to get some help. And another day job.

Crack is wack.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Are Your Favorite North American Cities To Visit?!?

I travel extensively for my Day Job. I don't always enjoy this, but one perk is the ability to see a lot of places on someone else's dime. I think I've been the every "major" US city with the exception of Cincinnati and Columbus, OH. I'm not sure where I got the idea for this post, but participate anyway. No grand social experiment here, just curious about a few things:
1) What's your favorite North American city? We're not talking international here.[1]

2) What's the city/place you dislike visiting the most?

3) Where's a place you'd love to go, but haven't yet?

4) Name a city that's really, really overrated.

5) Name a city that's kinda slept on.

6) What's the sh*ttiest place you've visited?!?
Mine are pretty straightforward:
1) The Entire Bay Area - I suppose I'd pick San Francisco, simply because it's so beautiful. But Oakland, Berkeley and the rest of the East Bay are also nice. So yeah, the whole Yay Area. Runners Up: Toronto, New Orleans, Austin.

2) Boston - I just don't like that place. The people are rude as sh*t, they cannot drive, the weather sucks, and everything's overpriced. Runners Up: Orlando, Houston, Los Angeles.

3) Vancouver - It just seems like such a beautiful place. Combine San Francisco and Seattle. Throw in some mountains. And so many movies are filmed there. I have no idea of the culture or local vibe, but this is a place I'd probably just visit to take photos. Runners Up: Albequerque, Madison, Anywhere in Vermont.

4) Miami - Lovely if you have money to blow. Otherwise, not so much. Okay, who am I kidding? Miami is awesome! If you're 21 and unmarried. Otherwise, what's the point? I'd take Ft. Lauderdale anyday. Runners Up: Charlotte, Austin (yes, twice!), Las Vegas.

5) Memphis - Other than New Orleans, I don't think there's a city with as much unique local culture. This place is just lovely and laid back. Great food and live music. Nice weather and an easy to navigate downtown. Runners Up: Portland, Hartford, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City (yes, really), Harrisburg, .

6) Camden, NJ - No disrespect to my Jersey peoples, but this sh*t was just depressing. It looks like a city where people used to live. When you cross that bridge from Philly, you better lock your doors and roll up the windows. I'm sure half of ya'll were expecting me to say Detroit. I'm not. #MercyRule Runners Up: Newark, Tallahassee, Topeka..
Tell me yours in the comments section.

Question: Answer any of the questions above.

[1] You probably noticed DC was missing from this list. That's because it (and NC) is home.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

White Supremacist Finds Out He's 1/9th Black. (Video Link Fixed)

Update: The video link is fixed.

So I'm guessing this fella's Thanksgiving is officially ruined.

Gotta admire Dr. Shaharazad. Between this and HLN's must-see Trayvon Martin coverage, she's back on the map. #OpenHandedSlapToTheMouth

About My New .AVI And Racist Commenters...

While I love (duh!) and love interacting with you guys here, I spend time elsewhere on the interwebs. I love a variety of sites like Mediaite, The Atlantic, Salon, Slate, The Fox Nation, BreitBart, and The National Review, mostly because I love occasional trolling and these sites have some dimwitted people more than willing to feed me.

That prior sentence was only partially true: sometimes I like attempting to engage people with opposing viewpoints. Not because I'm trying to impose my opinion on them, but because I genuinely want to know what makes people tick. Some websites (like this one) are pretty reasonable places for people to actually debate topics without things descending into name calling. Mostly because I don't write the sort of content that draws morons, and also because you guys are pretty darn good at self policing. Take a bow.

Every site isn't as civil as this one, of course. Many of the sites I named above are little more than SEO machines troll bait disguised as intellectual discussion. And more times than not, my geniune inquiries on these sites results in someone hurling some racist, ignorant drivel at me without even paying any attention to what I actually typed.

This drivel almost always seems to mention the words "Obama", "welfare", "liberal", "ghetto", "moocher", "plantation", "Africa", "below-average intelligence" "hood", "goverment check", and sometimes the dreaded "N-word". It's almost as if people can't deal with any substantive rebuttal of their own opinions without resorting to time tested racial slurs, overt and otherwise. And yes, I already know this is the sign of a feeble minded person who doesn't deserve a reply. No need to remind me.

That said, I suspect 90% of these replies are knee-jerk reactions to my Disqus profile name (AverageBro) and my accompanying avatar (the handsome cartoon version of the real-life handsomer me). This of course makes me wonder if people would respond without resorting to name-calling if they didn't have a basis on which to form said name-calling.

In short, if people didn't know I was black, would they automatically resort to name-calling? Would I just judged by the content of my comment, rather than the color of my jpeg?

So to that effect, I'm going to momentarily genericize my Disqus profile just to perform my own social experiment. Maybe I'll do a followup post in awhile. Until then, don't be thrown off. My new screen name is "A/B" and my new avi is that little guy holding the American flag. And if ya' don't know, now ya' know...

I'd be interested in knowing your Avi Adventures as well.

Question: Do you find people respond a certain way based on your screen name/avi? Do they make certain assumptions based on this? How/why did you choose your avi/name?

The Man Who Lost $127 Million.

If you love gambling games and visiting casinos on a regularly basis, then you're aware of how luck Seems completely absent on some days. In game pages as you can check the power of chance However unlucky you’ve been, we assure you that it doesn’t even come close to what happened to Terry Watanabe. This man’s yearlong gambling run is believed to be the worst losing streak ever in Las Vegas history ( for more info). He ended up losing $127 Million. Let’s see how this unfortunate event took place.

Harry Watanabe is the founder of a successful gift shop called the Oriental Trading Company. In the early 30’s the company prospered thanks to his efforts until it became one of the largest in its industry. Harry Watanabe until always wanted to make his son Terry the CEO. It was the year 1977 when his son finally assumed leadership of the company. A little more than two decades later, Terry sold his entire stake in the company in order to amass a huge fortune that would play an important part in propelling his drinking and gambling issues.

The beginning of the end started in 2007 when Harry took a trip to Las Vegas. Apparently, he took an enormous liking to the city’s infamous night life and casinos. As a wealthy man with little restraints, the casinos slowly drained his accumulated wealth for an entire year. During that year Harry spent most of his time visiting the Harrah casinos. It is estimated that about 6% of the Harrah’s annual revenue came from Watanabe. It was a sinful gambling and drinking binge that ended up costing him millions.

Harry decided to put an end to his gambling problem after a serious talk with his sister on Thanksgiving. She helped him made sure he found his way to a rehabilitation center in Omaha. Since then, Harry hasn’t laid a foot inside a casino but unfortunately that was not the end to his problems.

The Harrah casinos eventually had to sue Watanabe since he refused to pay his millionaire debts. He agreed to pay part of it, since he felt that the Harrah casinos fueled his gambling problem by supplying him with copious amounts of alcohol. Employees at Harrah's say that Mr. Watanabe would sometimes lose up to $5 million a day and gamble for hours without sleep.

Luckily for Harry, the Casino decided to settle things outside of court: a confidential agreement was made a couple of weeks before the Watanabe’s trial and all claims from both parties were dropped. Harry has kept out of the public eye for a while ever since.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Richie Incognito Wants You To Know "He Isn't Racist". Because Is Anyone Actually Racist Anymore?

I suppose I'm contractually obligated to weigh in on this Richie Incognito/Johnathan Martin story, simply because I occasionally play fantasy football watch pro football while waiting for the NBA season to start. But honestly, I don't know what more to add.

While Martin has seemingly gone into witness protection since leaving the team, Incognito hit a series of softballs lobbed gently in his direction sat down for an interview with Fox Sports' Jay Glazer yesterday.
Suspended Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito said the apparently threatening and abusive voicemails and text messages he sent to teammate Jonathan Martin, whom he called a good friend, "were coming from a place of love."

Incognito, in an interview with Fox's Jay Glazer, excerpts of which were broadcast today, addressed the accusations of hazing and racism he has faced since his suspension from the team for expletive-laced rants directed at the rookie.

"My actions were coming from a place of love," Incognito said. "No matter how bad or how vulgar it sounds, that's how we communicate, that's how our friendship was. Those are the facts and that's what I'm accountable for."

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said the team suspended Incognito indefinitely on Nov. 4 after Martin turned in voicemails and text messages showing Incognito using the N-word to describe Martin and threatening his family, according to ESPN.

The controversy came to light after Fox Sports reported that Martin and other rookies had been forced to pay thousands of dollars for dinner tabs and vacations for more veteran members of the team.

The NFL is now investigating the Dolphins' workplace, according to Philbin. Incognito turned his cell phone over to Glazer to let him see the 1,142 text messages between the two men in their 18 months as teammates, including some showing that Martin and Incognito have been in contact even after the scandal broke.

In one message, sent after Martin left the team, the rookie congratulated Incognito on the Dolphins' win, and told Incognito, "I'm good."

In another message, Martin wrote, "I don't blame you guys at all. It's just the culture around football and the locker room got to me a little."
Here's part of the interview. Notice how Mr. Incognito has a fresh haircut, crisp Oxford, and speaks proper English the entire time. Word to Mike Vick.

Seriously, who's a guy gotta lynch around here to be called racist?

It might shock some of you, but I don't think Richie Incognito is racist. He's not racist, because nobody is racist in post-racial America. Richie's got black co-signers in the Dolphins' locker room who give him free license to spew the word "nigger" as frequently as he'd like without retribution, or for that matter, pushback. He's an honorary black man, far more honorable than the "half nigger" Martin, who simply didn't fit in and probably shouldn't have even been drafted by a team with this sort of locker room "culture".

What's most disheartening about all of this is listening to all the former players turns "analysts" essentially agreeing with Incognito and blaming the victim here. Negroes please.

What's clear to me is that Martin and Incognito have likely both played their last NFL games, albeit for drastically different reasons. Martin, because no team wants to hire a guy who will likely go to the press when something doesn't go his way, and Incognito because he's a racist scumbag. This isn't Riley Cooper, a guy who seemed to immediately understand what he did was wrong, make no excuses, and apologize to his teammates. Incognito's got a long history of misdeeds, and I suspect his 9th life was just pissed away.

But I could be wrong, I suppose.

Question: What's your read on this whole situation?

White Republican Pretends To Be Black. Wins Local Election.

Black people are about as likely to vote for Republicans as we are to buy a Downton Abbey box set[1] for our grandma for Christmas, a fact hardly lost on party insiders. You'll remember the party's 2012 post-mortem mentioned ways of reaching out to "the blacks" by reminding us that they're "the party of Lincoln" and that "MLK was a Republican" and whatnot. The GOP also promised they'd actually "go into black communities to talk about how Conservative policies can benefit them".

I suppose this latest controversy from the (sometimes) "great state of Texas" falls under the "community outreach" category.
A white anti-gay activist won a local election after leading voters to believe he is African American.

Dave Wilson, who unsuccessfully ran for Houston mayor in 2011, narrowly won a seat on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees after pretending to be black in his predominantly African American district, KHOU 11 News reported Friday.

KHOU offered details on how Wilson, a conservative Republican, misled voters on his race:

Wilson, a gleeful political troublemaker, printed direct mail pieces strongly implying that he's black. His fliers were decorated with photographs of smiling African-American faces -- which he readily admits he just lifted off websites -- and captioned with the words "Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson."

One of his mailers said he was "Endorsed by Ron Wilson," which longtime Houston voters might easily interpret as a statement of support from a former state representative of the same name who's also African-American. Fine print beneath the headline says "Ron Wilson and Dave Wilson are cousins," a reference to one of Wilson's relatives living in Iowa.

Wilson, who had previously made a name for himself in Houston politics by sending out thousands of mailers attacking an openly gay mayoral candidate, defeated 24-year incumbent Bruce Austin by just 26 votes.

"I'd always said it was a long shot," Wilson said.

Austin, Wilson's opponent, called the tactic "disgusting," and told the Houston Chronicle that he will seek a recount of the extremely close race.
I'm sure some of you are expecting me to light into the GOP and Mr. Wilson for intentionally carrying out a campaign of deception. And some of you are likely expecting me to rip the Houston area voters (of which my mother is one) who voted for this guy simply "cause he black", or because that's what they thought.

Nope, not gonna do either.

I'm gonna actually give Mr. Wilson props for pulling off a ruse that likes of which we haven't seen since The Distinguished Gentleman. That was some seriously clever sh*t right there, and here's why.

Most People Have No Clue Who Runs In "Super Local" Elections Of This Level - Let's face it, I doubt any voters even know what Houston Community College Board of Trustees actually is, let alone how many seats it is comprised of. These are "super local" elections that hardly get media coverage, especially in a city the size of Houston. Sure, your typical voter cares about mayors, councilmen, judges, and schoolboards, but beyond that? Most people are simply gonna vote for a name the recognize, or along party lines.

People Vote Via Name Recognition - Wilson was a longshot mayoral candidate in 2011, which means people probably remember his name from a ballot then, if nothing else. Combine this with all the flyers he sent out, as well as the person he (cleverly) name-dropped, and the name is cemented in peoples' consciousness. I honestly don't think the fact that he sent out flyers implying he was black had anything at all to do with this.

I Don't Blame The Voters - Again, this is a super-local election in the 4th largest city in America. The voters simply checked off the guy whose name they recognized, and kept it pushin'. It doesn't make these people dumb, it makes them typical. If you can name your local community college board of trustees without consulting The Google, then you earn the right to call these people embeciles. Otherwise, shush.

I Blame The Black Guy Who Lost - Bruce Austin prolly thought he had this election sewn up and took his electorate for granted, based entirely on his own name recognition. Wilson simply outworked him by sending out more flyers.[2] Did the fact that the flyers had black people prominently displayed help a little? Prolly. But maybe not. Who knows.

Better luck next election, Mr. Austin.

Question: Is Dave Wilson guilty of misleading voters? Are the voters just dumb/racist? How do you typically decide who to vote for in these "super local" elections?!?

[1] Not saying there aren't black people checkin' for Downton Abbey (like my grandmother), I'm just saying there aren't many.

[2] Although I gotta admit, if I saw that Fisher Price© My First Flyer shown above in my mailbox, my Negro Antennae™ would immediately go up. Monday Open Mic.

Yeah, about that long absence... I've been out sick. Just regaining my bearings. Bear with me. {Clever double usage of the word "bear", no?}

Anyways, here's your blank slate. Fill it with something.

Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo.

Friday, November 1, 2013 Friday Open Mic.

Ya'll are on your own today. Play nicely. Here's a few stories that might interest you.

One TSA Employee Killed, Two Other Victims Wounded at LAX [Mediaite]

FAA allowing most electronic device use throughout flights [CNN]

Sen. Ted Cruz's dad: Send Obama back to Kenya [CNN]

What can Jay Z do about alleged racial profiling at Barneys? [WashPost]

The tea party jumps the shark [WashPost]

Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jay Z, Barney's, Shop & Frisk, And Black Peoples' Perpetual Search For A Savior.

I love Black people. A lot. I'm married to one, and I've created three more of them. So yeah, we're cool and whatnot. But if there's one thing about us that really annoys me, it's our insistence on holding a handful of relatively well off people responsible for the "saving" all 44,456,009 of us when something goes wrong. You'll recall the backlash Oprah Winfrey took when she donated money to start a school for girls in Africa. Folks complained about pro-athletes who didn't jump on the Jena Six bandwagon and boycott the state of Louisiana. Dr. Dre gave millions to USC, but didn't give sh*t to Morris Brown. Reverend Al Sharpton (and at one point Jesse Jackson) is expected to fly into town and launch a Million Aggrieved Black Persons march everytime some kid gets yelled at by a white teacher. And how come nobody famous broke Trayvon Martin's parents off with a lil' somethin'?

I've always found this "pick a savior, as long as he/she is famous" line of reasoning faulty. It presumes that the person being asked to take a stand not only cares about said stand, but is actually capable of taking said stand. Just because someone can rap doesn't mean they're literate on issues as complex as racial disparities in public school funding. When you take someone (black/white/or other) and try to shoehorn them into making a social statement when they probably can't even spell "social statement", you end up with bewilidering scenes like this.[1]

No celebrity personifies this "please save us" mentality quite like Jay Z. His rags to riches ascension from the projects to household name has been told (and embellished) ad nauseum. He's the rare rapper who can get away with calling his own wife a b*tch in a song, and skirt charges of sexism.[2] He allows himself to be used as the smiling public face of emminent domain, yet can spin it by claiming he "owns the team", when he owned about as much of the Nets as I own Sirius XM. He's a walking, talking contridiction. Actually, that's untrue. He's a business, man. Not a businessman. Expecting him to be about anything more than money is unrealistic.

So forgive me if I can't get on board with the petition asking the Jigga Man to sever his relationship with Barney's, after the retailer was accused of using Shop & Frisk tactics to harass a couple of young black customers last week.
Jay-Z — under increasing pressure to back out of a collaboration with the luxury store Barneys New York after it was accused of racially profiling two black customers — said Saturday he's being unfairly "demonized" for just waiting to hear all of the facts.

The rap mogul made his first statement about the controversy in a posting on his website. He has come under fire for remaining silent as news surfaced this week that two young black people said they were profiled by Barneys after they purchased expensive items from their Manhattan store.

An online petition and Twitter messages from fans have been circulating this week, calling on the star to bow out of his upcoming partnership with Barneys for the holiday season, which will have the store selling items by top designers, inspired by Jay-Z, with some of the proceeds going to his charity. He is also working with the store to create its artistic holiday window display.

But Jay-Z — whose real name is Shawn Carter — defended himself, saying that he hasn't spoken about it because he's still trying to figure out exactly what happened.

"I move and speak based on facts and not emotion," the statement said. "I haven't made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys. Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?" he said, referring to local newspaper headlines.

The two Barneys customers, Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, said this week they were detained by police after making expensive purchases.

Christian sued Barneys, saying he was accused of fraud after using his debit card to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt in April. Philips filed a notice of claim saying she would sue after she was stopped by detectives outside the store when she bought a $2,500 Celine handbag in February.

As the criticism grew, Barneys said Thursday it had retained a civil rights expert to help review its procedures. The CEO of Barneys, Mark Lee, offered his "sincere regret and deepest apologies." Kirsten John Foy, an official with the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, said he would meet with Barneys officials on Tuesday to discuss the racial profiling allegations.

Jay Z also dismissed reports that he would profit from the collaboration. He said he's "not making a dime" from working with Barneys. Instead, his Shawn Carter Foundation, which provides college scholarships to economically challenged students, will get 25 percent of all sales from the collaboration.

"This money is going to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning," he said. "My idea was born out of creativity and charity... not profit."

He also said that "making a decision prematurely to pull out of this project wouldn't hurt Barneys or Shawn Carter but all the people that stand a chance at higher education," he said. "I have been working with my team ever since the situation was brought to my attention to get to the bottom of these incidents and at the same time find a solution that doesn't harm all those that stand to benefit from this collaboration."
There are so many things wrong with this story. Where should I begin?

1) Jay Z thinks he's "being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?" Jigga please. You're being asked to be held accountable for the actions of the people you got in bed with. Whether fair or unfair (or downright misplaced), this is what sometimes happens when you're the sole, smiling black face attached to a multibillion dollar corporation. Deal with it.

2) Jay Z says he's "not making a dime" and doesn't want to stop his Barney's promotion because it would cut off funds that would otherwise be going to charity. Seriously? A guy who raps about watches he can't spell and most of his listeners couldn't afford is suddenly worried about a few hundred thousand dollars? Really? We don't believe you. Cut the damn check out of your own pocket. It's just a tax writeoff anyway.

3) "I move and speak based on facts and not emotion" has to be the biggest crock of Jigga Nonsense I've heard since American Gangster. In other words, unless these kids have proof that they were profiled, he's gonna side with the people who are paying him. And make no mistake: whether with actual cash or social currency, Barney's is paying Jay Z. If you think he's doing this out of the kindness of his heart, you prolly actually liked American Gangster.

4) "I have been working with my team ever since the situation was brought to my attention to get to the bottom of these incidents and at the same time find a solution that doesn't harm all those that stand to benefit from this collaboration." = I had a weedcarrier Memphis Bleek Google this to see what he could find out. He didn't find anything, so I just sent him to pickup my Outback to-go order instead.

5) In response to the claims, {read between the lines here) Barney's called Reverend Al and cut a check to the National Action Network. Damnit that man is great at extortion! He is the Michael Jordan of recordin' Extortion!

The most ironic part of this entire story is that the two poor saps who were (allegedly) profiled as they bought those overpriced belts and bags probably got the idea from a Jay Z song.

Just so nobody is mistaken, I don't think a petition to get Jay Z to end his relationship with Barney's is a good idea. Mostly because Jay Z isn't the sort of artist who gives two sh*ts if you get profiled at Barney's. Also because Jay Z is an ass who only cares about getting paid. And even if he wasn't that kinda guy, a better solution is to simply not give good money to people who don't respect you.

Which would also include one Shawn Corey Carter.

Question: Should Jay Z be more socially conscious and tell Barneys he is one of their 99 Problems? Shouldn't the National Action Network give some of that shakedown money to the actual victims of this sad episode? Are there better ways of telling Barney's "F*ck You!" than the ones I suggested?

[1] Seriously, do you think Kanye had any idea what "Occupy Wall Street" was all about? Did 90% of the Occupiers even understand what "Occupy Wall Street" was all about? I haven't seen a black man who looked more clueless about his surroundings since... well... since I watched RGIII vs the Broncos yesterday. Seriously, Robert, get your sh*t together.

[2] "Bad b*tch... H-Town.."

Friday, October 25, 2013 NewsBriefs.

Some choice linkage...

Hannity Reveals That Obamacare Hotline Operator Who Took His Call Got Fired - Hannity gets a black woman fired by playing a prank on her on his radio show. What an a-hole!

Hannity Pledges To Recoup Salary for Obamacare Operator Who Was Fired for Talking to Him - Yeah, right.

Herman Cain: Sexual Harassment Charges Were Orchestrated by 'The Devil' - Uhhhhmmmm, yeah okay. The Devil had you paying some chick's rent and texting her at 4am?!? Got it, Daddy Cain.

Shooting Reported on Tennessee Naval Base - Deja vu.

Conspiracy Theory Emerges That Woman Fainting at Obama Speech Was Staged - Just laugh at the absurdity and keep it pushin'.

Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo.

Maryland Attorney General Attends Underaged Drinking Party. Does Nothing.

An interesting battle for Governor is brewing in my (adopted) home state of Maryland. Presumed front-runner and state Attorney General Doug Gansler is gearing up to face Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown next year, in a battle of two Democrats with interesting credentials. Since this is a solidly blue state, whoever wins the primary is a virtual shoo-in to take the Governor's mansion.

Gansler is a career climber who has gone from local politics to statewide office in record time. It's also clear he's the guy the state Democratic Party is "pushing" for the seat. Brown, who looks an awful lot like Barack Obama (and whose new wife looks a lot like Michelle) wants to become the state's first black governor, and hopes to leverage his name recognition and the fact that almost 1/3 of the state's voters are black. This lead Gansler to make a pretty riduclous statement about Brown a few months ago that pissed off a lot of potential voters and lead Gansler to checkmate Brown by finding himself a black female running mate from Brown's home county. So yeah, lots of pettiness here. Early polls have indicated the race is neck in neck, but I'm thinking Gansler's chances just took a turn for the worse.
A month after launching his campaign for governor, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler was entangled Thursday in yet another controversy, this time acknowledging a lapse in judgment when he appeared at a beach-house party and did nothing to stop apparent underage drinking going on there.

At a half-hour news conference in Silver Spring, Gansler (D) said that when he stopped by a party for graduating high school students in June, he should have been more vigilant about ensuring that the teenagers were not doing anything illegal. A photograph shows Gansler in the middle of a party scene, surrounded by young people. He said that failing to more thoroughly investigate what was going on at the party was “a mistake I made.”

In hindsight, I probably should have assumed there was drinking and talked to the chaperones about what they thought was appropriate,” Gansler said. But Maryland’s top law enforcement official said he was there as a parent, hoping to talk briefly to his teenage son about travel plans, and not as “a police officer or anything else.”

He saw teenagers drinking from red plastic cups that night, Gansler said. “There could be Kool-Aid in the red cups,” he said, “but there’s probably beer in the red cups.”

At the news conference, Gansler was shown a copy of the photo that appears to show him holding a phone. When asked whether he was taking a photo with it, he said he had not yet learned how to do that with his new iPhone. He said he thought he was reading a text message.

Last week, The Washington Post reported that written accounts by the Maryland State Police alleged that Gansler regularly ordered troopers assigned to drive for him to speed and run red lights, even on the way to routine appointments. Gansler accused a police commander who documented those concerns of being a politically motivated “henchman” trying to help Brown’s campaign.

In August, before Gansler ­formally announced his long-anticipated bid for governor, The Post reported that he was secretly recorded at a meeting with volunteers saying that Brown was relying on his race to get elected and that his campaign slogan was: “Vote for me, I want to be the first African American governor of Maryland.”

But Gansler told the Sun: “Assume for purposes of discussion that there was widespread drinking at this party. How is that relevant to me? . . . The question is: Do I have any moral authority over other people’s children at beach week in another state? I say no.
For those of you missing the bigger picture here, the state's "top cop" essentially walked into a party in which 17 and 18 year olds were drinking, and looked the other way. His insistence that he didn't know kids were drinking, and that they might have had Kool Aid in those solo cups, and that he didn't know how to use his new iPhone is just laughable. He also seemed to be caught taking pictures of (possibly underaged) girls twerkin' on a tabletop.[1] So yeah, this isn't a good look. At all. And of yeah, there's this.

Not. A. Good. Look.

I suspect Brown is behind this "leak", just as he was behind the "race tape" and the story about the red lights. And I personally think this is fairly smart politics. Make a guy whose job it is to essentially be the legal/moral compass of an entire state look like a total and complete hypocrite by simply throwing out factual examples of his own contradictions. A winning formula if there ever was one.

Brown might wanna start watching his back though. There's a long time between now and the primary.

Question: Is the attorney general responsible for reporting a potential crime even if he's out of state and off the clock?

[1] That's him in the white shirt, looking like a narc.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 Group Therapy: Session One.

The other day here on the blog, a Friend Of posed a work-related question to the others. We collectively gave her some advice, which I believe she has taken to heart and will use to improve her career. It was a textbook example of many helping one.[1] It was lovely, and it in some small ways restored my faith in this blog's mission.

I hate using terms like "Group Therapy" because that has a certain clinical connotation that turns many off, but so what. Black people have had this stigma about getting/asking for help for decades, and it doesn't really help us. We assume asking for professional help is "sh*t white folks do", and ignore some serious issues in our communities as a result. While it still lags far behind the rate of whites, the levels of suicide in the black community have skyrocketed in recent years. In short, we need help, and helping each other is a way to do so. Your issue might be about relationships, family, your job, self image, whatever. We're here to help.

With all that said, I'd like to experiment with a new feature here that I'll call Group Therapy. It works like this:
1) If you have a dilemma, situation, or issue that you'd like the advice of others on, leave a comment below.
2) If you can help, chime in white well reasoned, helpful, and earnest advise in the thread below the original issue comment.
3) If you're a regular and you want confidentiality, leave your comment as a guest. We are not here to judge.
4) Be descriptive when explaining the issue. People are more likely to help if you give the necessary detail.
5) This is not a political thread. This a about relationships. If you don't know the difference, don't comment.
6) Play nicely. This is not a forum for trolls, male/female bashers, or for people to project their own issues.
Okay the floor is open. Speak on it.

Question: Do you have an "issue" you'd like to toss out there for Group Therapy?!? Let us know.

[1] Note: I'm not in any way equating giving someone workplace advice to giving someone counseling/mental health advice. Monday's question simply gave me the general idea for this new feature. That's all.