Monday, November 30, 2009

Mr. Pitts I Respectively Disagree...

Wow, not even a week went by........(my email today regarding his column on Sammy Sosa)

Mr. Pitts;

When you make the comment "you're not black" it does a disservice to people like me. I can be empathetic, reasonable, and understanding simply on the preponderance of the evidence.

We have two issues at play here, first is your assumption, which the email writer points out, that "Your column seemingly assumes he lightens his skin color out of shame and fails to recognize that he may simply be doing it out of vanity or his own sense of personal style." The second is how you see it, and that relates entirely to what we in public health call the greater good. Your point - and it is not lost to me because I am white - is that taken as a whole, these types of actions chip away at the self-image of blacks, especially children.

On the other hand, what one individual does or does not do may not always fall within the reasoning behind the actions of the whole. Why young black children see black as bad may have nothing to do with why Mr. Sosa wants lighter skin. Unless we can somehow get into his brain we can never know - and that is what the reader took issue with - you cannot paint everyone with the same reasoning brush, which is what you did.

Your fight is for the good of the whole, which like me, understands that there is an overall problem with self-image that needs to be addressed. Mr. Sosa and Mr. Jackson unfortunately have perpetuate this lighter is better attitude by their actions which may be from their dislike of being black or a result of using skin softeners. You take issue with this for reasons I can glean from your writing but alas can never fully know, not because I am white, but because I can never know with certanty what motivates you.

Why we behave in ways that unintentionally hurt others is a complex social issue beyond my understanding. But before you assume the motivation behind the action, you need to accept the fact that you just don't know. As Freud is quoted as saying "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Palin...a Rock Opera

My lame attempt at parody. With apologies to the Who’s Tommy, Weird Al, and the Capitol Steps. Real lyrics

Sung to the tune “Tommy’s Holiday Camp”

Uncle Hannity:
Good morning Tea Baggers!
I'm your Uncle Hannity
and I want you all in Palin’s political camp
We’re the movement with the difference
Never mind the hubris
When you come with Sarah
Its conservatives forever………..

Sung to the tune “We’re not gonna take it”

Sarah Palin:
Welcome to my Camp,
I guess you all know why we're here.
My name is Sarah
and I became a phenomenon this year

If you real Americans want to follow me,
We’ve got to play hardball.
So put on your lipstick...
....your dress from Neiman Marcus
You know where the tea bag goes!

Hey you Fags wanting to be married, so sorry!
Not on my watch.
Hey you listening to mainstream media!
You only need Fox!
Hey you un-American ACLU loving Mr. Liberal,
I’ve come to seal your fate.
‘Cause when I become the President,
I'll tear down that wall between church and state.

We're not gonna elect you,
Didn’t in 2008 and never will,
We're not gonna elect you,
Gonna work against you, gonna expose you,
let's get America to forget you better still.

Now you can hear me,
‘cause I’m constantly being interviewed.
I get the chance to speak freely now,
but my voice is still so shrill.
You aint seen nothing yet,
And my brand of conservatism completes the scene.
Here comes Uncle Hannity to lead you to,
an ultra-right theocracy.

We're not gonna elect you.
Didn’t then and never will.
Don't want no Palin nonsense.
And as loud as we can yell.
We ain't gonna vote for you.
Not ever – no, never will.
We're not gonna make you our President.
We are embarrassed of you.
Let's get America to forget you better still.

Buy my book.
Hear me speak.
I’ve gone rouge.
Don’t blame me.

Listening to me,
You get my viewpoints.
Gazing at me,
I’m still hotter than Hillary.
Voting for me,
Will get me elected.
I’ll stay a few years and then I’ll quit!

With my new book deal,
I will make millions.
With you,
I can become your leader.
With you,
I crave your accolades.
With you,
I can save my Party.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Call me...Mr. (white) Leonard Pits

There are very few people that I can truly relate to in terms of sharing my particular sensibilities. I see things very different then most of the folks I spend my day-to-day with.

I try to read as many different view points as I can. I force myself to listen to those who purposely , in my opinion, try to mislead. I am open to having my conventional wisdom challenged and am not afraid to change my mind. As my friend Marc puts it - "I go where the data takes me."

Without an exception, well maybe one time, the columnist Leonard Pitts has always articulated issues and events in a way that closely resembles my way of looking at it. Except he can write and defend it better than I can, oh yea, he has also won a Pulitzer Prize for doing it. But besides from all that we are almost twins, except he is black and I am white (Stevie Wonder song get out of my head!).

Why do I share a similar stream of consciousness with this guy? Is it because we are both the same age and are both from Southern California? But we grew up very different. I had a very stable family life, he did not. He was very smart and did well in school, I struggled. Then there is the black/white thing going on in how we lived, although it was not really that big of deal in California - at least for me.

So there is something in both our makeup that is unique to both of us. Something we share that transcends race, upbringing, geography, and culture. I am not sure exactly what it is, but I see it in his writing and I see it in mine. We seem to both be very pragmatic and empathetic to a fault. I find it comforting that there is at least one other soul out there that sees it like I see it.

When my blogging wins me a Pulitzer we will truly be equals. But for now I'll settle just for one reader. Crickets....Crickets.....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That's a really big stretch

Researcher: Faint writing seen on Shroud of Turin
She asserts that the words include the name "(J)esu(s) Nazarene" — or Jesus of Nazareth — in Greek. That, she said, proves the text could not be of medieval origin because no Christian at the time, even a forger, would have mentioned Jesus without referring to his divinity. Failing to do so would risk being branded a heretic. "Even someone intent on forging a relic would have had all the reasons to place the signs of divinity on this object," Frale said Friday. "Had we found 'Christ' or the 'Son of God' we could have considered it a hoax, or a devotional inscription."
OK so the hypothesis is that a medieval forger would be incapable of completing this elaborate hoax because he would not risk being branded a heretic by leaving off the divinity.

In other words the fact that he produced a fake cloth in an effort to get people to believe that it was the burial cloth of Jesus and the image was that of Jesus would be nothing compared to mentioning Jesus without referring to his divinity.

Misleading people into believing the forged image is Jesus - no big deal.

Leaving off the divinity part when you forged the name of Jesus - Heretic!

Please...please do not call this woman a researcher.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fear of the word complacent

I was listening to Casey Kasem on Serius, The year - 1978. He was disusing the death of co-founder Terry Kath and how the band was forced to change because of it. The story was not about the death but about the band understanding that they had become complacent.

Now for me, words have taken on a whole new emphasis in my life. I cannot spell, I have very poor grammar (In fact I just misspelled it grammer), and I mispronounce words. All of this, especially when it is pointed out to you, takes a toll on one's confidence. But lately I have realized that those are just my faults, that's all they are and everyone has something they do worse then someone else. So I have begun a journey to write, learn, read, and try to better myself. So when I write this blog, I write it for me as well as anyone else that reads it that may be unaware of what the particular "word of the blog" is.

So on to today's theme - complacent:
Contented to a fault with oneself or one's actions.
Well what's wrong with that? But I always understood complacent to be kind of a bad thing to let happen. Then I find:
A feeling of contented self-satisfaction, especially when unaware of upcoming trouble.
Now that one fits the meaning better, at least for me. So why all this fuss over over this word? Well it comes down to having to face your fears. Now some folks fear death, or financial ruin, and others loss of standing, for me - I fear becoming complacent.

The reason for this is that I know that it can happen to anyone who lets down their guard. Complacency is the path of least resistance, the easiest road to follow. You become complacent because you do not challenge yourself. I fear it because it wants into my life and as much as I want to keep it at bay, external issues out of my control are helping to create a fertile media for it to take root.

Why be so afraid? Because complacency leads to stagnation, non-growth, lack of innovation. What makes it bad comes down to "especially when unaware of upcoming trouble." Upcoming trouble is your competition that has not become complacent. Complacency stifles creativity and causes one to become stale and boring. It's the one's that offer something new that capture the attention.

But complacency is also very cheap to maintain. No risk in failure because there is nothing new being developed. No added cost because its a fine oiled machine - don't fix what aint broke! Why change it when it is working - it's good enough.............

Complacency happens when you when you realize that you can put lipstick on a pig and they buy it. At some point I will be handed the lipstick, my fear is that I will pick it up and use it

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Muslim Sympathizer

As heard in College Station, Texas, 10:30ish Central Time on a christian radio station 89.9:

Caller: Isn't he (Obama) a Muslim?

Host: Well he is not an admitted Muslim, but he is a Muslim sympathizer.

So Obama sympathizes with Muslims....OK, and as our President this is somehow seen as bad because....???

So what does it mean to "sympathize"?
  1. to be in keeping, accord, or harmony
  2. to react or respond in sympathy
  3. to share in suffering or grief : commiserate ; also : to express such sympathy
  4. to be in sympathy intellectually
So what the christian radio host was saying is that the President of the United States should not participate in any of the above if it is directed towards a Muslim. There are an estimated 5-7 million Muslims in the United States, does he think Obama is not living up to his oath to defend the Constitution? Is unsympathetic behavior what God would instead condone?

I'm sorry, I just don't get it. How one behaves is what's in question here. Because some Muslims want a jihad is no different than some Christians wanting to kill abortion doctors. I should not paint everyone with the same brush. And the President has not only a moral but a constitutional obligation to do the same. As Thomas Jefferson stated:

"Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship......" (Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802).

To be critical of the President for being in "keeping, accord, or harmony" with all religions is not very American like. Come to think of it, it's not very Christ like either.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lying for God

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ‘Tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.” Benjamin Franklin

On my way to 89.1 the radio stops at 89.9, a christian radio station where two hosts are taking calls. I have searched for the name of the show and their names but can find noting. It was about 10:30ish on Friday Central Time.

I hear the tail end......

Caller: Isn't he (Obama) a Muslim?

Host: Well he is not an admitted Muslim, but he is a Muslim sympathizer.

Hmmmm, that doesn't sound very Christian like to me, I mean these guys are on a christian radio station professing how much Jesus loves us. But then I am struck with what just took place here. The host knowingly lied. Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim. Apparently the host doubts Obama's Christian faith, which only God really knows, so stating that he is "an admitted Muslim" is making either a direct lie or stating a belief that one knows what God knows.

But this is war, so it is OK to be dishonest, elusive, and misleading. "I did it for you God! I killed the truth to further your Glory, just like I killed those abortion doctors, just like I gave you the crusades, just like I massacred that wagon train in Mountain Meadows Utah, just like.......I did it all for you God!

The inability of those that proclaim themselves to be Christians to transcend above the simple-mindedness of basic human foibles, is disapointing. Don't they read their Bible? And those that lead them, those like the radio hosts that I'll bet told themselves that they were "called by God" to speak, have a responsibility to God and their audience to be truthful. Because if you lie about something then you can lie about anything.

So is what the host said lying? First what is a "Lie?" Websters defines it as:
  1. an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive
  2. is untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker
  3. something that misleads or deceives
  4. a charge of lying
Second, is telling a lie something that God would have an issue with?

Leviticus 19:11-12 "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another"

Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

Am I casting the first stone by pointing this out? No, just shining a light on another liar.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The crowd went crazy as Palin hit the stage....

On NPR this morning:

In the meantime, Palin is a hero to the GOP's "Tea Party" base — that portion of the party that is passionately and vociferously opposed to President Obama's policies. "She will play a tremendous role in the activist and the conservative movement," says conservative blogger Ed Morrissey. It's a constituency that views Palin "as someone very much like" them, he says. "Not somebody from the elite, not somebody from academia, but somebody who's a conservative mom — coming out of that same mold."

And in the Eagle:
(Texas Gov.) Perry, who is stoking populist fires with antiestablishment rhetoric, has dismissed the Cheney endorsement as the usual dealings of Washington insiders. He is also reminding supporters that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has cast her lot with him.
I have in my previous postings called Palin and "Empty Suit." I have not changed my mind. I should read her book, but she just turns me off, not just because of the hype that has now been built around her, but more so because she just does not come across to me as very smart. Which, come to think about it, is why she is well liked by the tea baggers - she is just like them, not very smart.

Now the nuttiness that passes itself off as conservatism is not what I am talking about. There are conservative ideas and liberal ideas that hold water on their own, but this new movement to define a "true conservative" is sophomoric and reflects poorly on the Republican party who has catered to it and is now afraid of offending it. . It is extremely difficult to be analytical and logical in one's thoughts while also espousing ultra-conservative views. Unless, of course, you don't believe them and only profess them to keep yourself "in."

In a nut shell, those "elite" and "academia" folk that are not like them, those are people with what we call brains. Smart people, intelligent people, learned people, circumspect, pragmatic. Smart people do not buy into hype. Not-so-smart people, do. So if she is "just like them" and "them" are folks who do not see themselves as smart, why the hell would we want her leading us or think she has anything of value to say?

The idea that the best person to run a country is an average Joe type is scary. I want brilliance, intelligence, knowledge in my leader, just like I want the smartest doctor, the smartest lawyer, the smartest investment advisor. Why would I want someone who is less than that?

So when Kay Bailey Hutchison - who is running against Perry - starts to believe that she too must cozy up close to one of the poster children for perfect conservatism, something is really going wrong with the Republican Party. Hutchenson is a smart lady - smart is OK, even in the Republican family. Stupid is as stupid does. Lets be smarter than a tea bagger, birther, or a Sarah Palin.

......Little Kay Bailey was lost for the price of a touch and a gash across her face! Oooooh.

(with apologies to the Who)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Its Called a Conjecture

Conjecture: a proposition which is presumed to be real, true, or genuine, mostly based on inconclusive grounds.

Two items struck me as a little bit misleading.

Police report says wrong-way driver a pot smoker
Hasan linked to 9/11 hijackers
So one would resonably conclude that:

  1. Pot was involved
  2. Hasan was involved with the 9/11 hijackers
Oh...but not so fast:

The report says Diane Schuler's husband told police his wife "smoked marijuana once in a while to relieve the stress of work and the kids."

The alleged Fort Hood shooter apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two Sept. 11 hijackers in 2001, at a time when a radical imam preached there

What is not in the report is:

  1. Was Schuler under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident?
  2. Did Hasan meet with the hijackers? Has anyone else who attended that mosque done anything similar?

Here's the problem. Smoking pot may or may not have anything to do with the accident. There is no evidence to report that it did. What one has done in the past has nothing to do with what one does now. These things are independent of one another. The probability may increase but the reality is that it either did or it did not contribute. Without evidence that it did, we have a paper guilty of conjecture.

The same holds true with the company one keeps or the places one attends. Didn't we learn anything from McCarthyism? The probability that his attendance at this mosque may have fueled his agression, but that was eight years ago. If the only "link" to 9/11 is attendance, then lets go after anyone that also attended that mosque at that time.

What is truth and what is hyperbole is lost when the media does not keep its self in check.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fun With Numbers

I heard on TV (and dang if I can recall what show) this guy making the case that Wal-Mart could pay their employees a better wage. The guy based this on the profit that Wal-Mart made. When the TV host posed this question to Wal-Mart, the answer was no, if they raised wages they would have to raise prices and the consumer would not go for that.

Mmmmm I thought, the Wal-Mart guy did not address his question, that is, with the profit Wal-Mart makes, why can't some of this go back to the employees?

Now before y'all start brandishing me a socialist-profit hating-share the wealth guy, here me out.

Profit - The positive gain from an investment or business operation after subtracting for all expenses. opposite of loss.

Net Income - In business, what remains after subtracting all the costs (namely, business, depreciation, interest, and taxes) from a company's revenues. Also called earnings or net profit.

So if I have my understanding correct, there is profit and then there is net income which is profit less all these other costs. So net income is truly what is left over after all expenses have been taken out.

Now lets see what will happen if Wal-Mart were to give every one of their 2.1 million employees a bonus of $1000.00 each. OMG! That totals to $2.1 Billion Dollars, there is no way they could afford to do that without raising prices for me the shopper.

What was their net income? $13.59 billion

Which means that if you took $2.1 billion away from this (15%) they would still have over $11 million to do with what they want.

So the way I look at is not spread the wealth but spread the benefit. They could improve 2.1 million peoples life or day and all it would cost is 15% of their net income.

There is something wrong with how we share success. Why so few reap the rewards is upsetting, but then when you realize that this net income often comes at a real price from those they use to obtain it, it makes you wonder why we support this model so unequivocally.