Saturday, April 21, 2007


It has been a while since I've put anything new here and there are many reasons for that, but not now. The post that follows is one that was written about 5 months ago and has been post-dated to show up as next most recent to this. The reason is simple. I noticed something today. Something that is related to the next post. Racial awareness.

I grew up in Texas and Kansas. Aside from the white folk, the only minority group that I was exposed to to a great extent was hispanics. Now, whenever I speak with someone who is either white or hispanic, I don't think twice. If I am speaking with someone who is asian, or black, however, I do. It isn't about fear or self loathing, but it is an element that was not part of my upbringing. Hispanics were part of my childhood, school, carpooling, et cetera. I certainly saw people of other races/ethnicities growing up, but I never really interacted with them (there was one black student in kindergarten with me--whose name was also Jacob--but he was gone the next year). There is an awareness when I speak with someone who is of a different race than those I grew up with. Some times it is subtle. Other times it is less so.

I am moving and selling many of my posessions in a moving sale. At least two thirds of the people who have come by have been black (including my neighbors). I don't treat them differently, and I don't chat any more or less with them, but I am more likely to have a clearer recollection of them after they have gone.

I'm not sure to what extent they are aware of me, and the whole is likely more complex than I am stating here, but it leads me to one, specific conclusion: forced integration of schools from K-12 is the best way to fight racism. I know this has been tried. It needs one other thing, something to equalize all students, so that there is no difference (other than race) within the classroom: single dealer uniforms. Yea, yea, I know. Issues galore, including with many of my friends. I don't care. Kids don't care about skin color. Ever. They will, however, be very self conscious if they are otherwise different. If a school is naturally integrated (without having to bus) then it may not be an issue, but if one group or another has to be bussed to a different location then they may be entering a school where things are different in terms of manner and dress. If all students are dressed the same then that removes one barrier to integration between transported students and the rest of the campus. I never really had much of an opinion regarding uniforms before. I remember, though, that when younger I felt more out of place when I didn't have Z Cavaricci pants among "peers" that did than I ever did among people
with different ethnic backgrounds.

It's not even about money, necessarily. When I moved from Texas to Kansas, I was completely out of place again. My clothes were wrong. People were different. I don't really know how much, but I know that I integrated more easily into my new school because I didn't have to chose what to wear in the morning before my first day of class. I needed a new wardrobe for football games and mixers. I needed to find out what that was. I don't think that uniforms solve anything. They just make transition easier. Integration is the goal, and anything that makes it easier is welcome.

I'm probably too tired to be writing. I'm off to bed (once "Stomp" has finished).

Monday, March 12, 2007


It still exists. Most people don't see any in themselves. Much of it is subtle (or stealth). Now, none of what follows does more than scratch the surface. Nor are there solutions contained here--though there are a couple of things that I think would help.

When I get on the 'L' in Chicago, I see all sorts of people. There is a peculiar phenomenon related to people seldom choosing to sit right next to someone they don't know. As the cars fill up, more of those seats are taken. People who are smartly dressed are among those sat next to first. Then those who look "clean," i.e. no stains, tears, groomed (shaved and brushed). Other "non-threatening" types fill up quickly too, this includes parents with children, elderly, many women, travelers. Some of the last seats to be occupied include those next to younger, street clothes dressed men, and the last of those black. But here's the question: is that really the way it is, or is that just the way I see it? If it wasn't for racial overtones, would I even begin to make mental notes about things like that? Does it affect the seat that I choose in a crowded car? If I deliberately choose one way, either way, is it good or bad?

I know, in fact, how I chose what seat to sit in when I must pair up: the seat I see first with the easiest access and most room that doesn't put someone else out. Of course, I'm not sure how I choose if two seats fit the bill. Even still, that doesn't answer the first two questions. Those are harder.

Here's another bone to chew on: affirmative action. I really don't have a problem with it. I'm not sure I would have a problem if it ended either. I generally see it as a good thing, but I know that there are people (white men) who see it, itself, as racist. This gets twisted into two distinct arguments, both of which I hate: 1. Affirmative action is anti-white; 2. Affirmative action is anti-black. The argument for the first is obvious, if wrong, the second is more seditious and nasty. The only real argument against affirmative action is that it is used as a talking point to stir up white anger (GOP voters, almost all) and it, therefore, is not really affirmative in practice, but that argument is weak as it is largely based on the prevalence of the other two.

Then there is the all-powerful: "I'm white, therefore my opinions on this are irrelevant." Which both assumes that all white people are racist and that fixing problems associated with racism is up to those who have felt the brunt of it, rather than those who, most often, have dealt it out. There is also a socialism/communism issue to be dealt with here most commonly reflected by the dishonest line: "Why should I have to be punished for the actions of others?"

Why it is that upper middle class white men so often feel persecuted is beyond me, but it has been a driving force for the Republican party for years, and it seems like it will continue in the near future (immigration, anyone?).

Racism is a very complex problem and it is one of many bad things that comes out of the self as victim perception that is popular in the US. That is to say that if a person feels they do not receive their due then they will want to find a person/group/thing to blame, and it is far easier to place blame on someone or some group that is obviously different, and race fits the bill. I generally believe that such feelings will be more prevalent in a society with more rigid class structure--like this country right now.

A few specific things would go a long way to fixing the problem. Improving education, including student aid, and providing first home purchase aid, and universal health care which really should be a given. I have plans; they don't belong here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Emergency Landing

Is not a phrase anyone wants to hear. In this case, however, the culprit was a squirrel, and the diversion was Honolulu. While kind of funny in retrospect, the furry bugger could have gnawed through wiring and caused a that did not happen, wouldn't it be great if you were on a plane that had to be diverted to Hawaii? Even if it were only for a day or so. Actually the main reason I wanted to post on this article is the last line: "Fearing it might have been carrying rabies, authorities had the rodent killed." Now, there may have been some fear of rabies, but that is not the reason they killed it. Hawaii, like California, Austrailia, and many other places, does not want any plants or animals brought there and crazy quarantine rules apply if you want to try. More importantly, squirrels are not even close to endangered, and in the absence of a random squirrel lover to take on the burden, financial and otherwise, of dealing with it, it is going to end up dead. The rabies thing sounds like someone's idea to keep crazy PETA people away. "We destroyed the squirrel, um, uh, because it might have had rabies? Yea, that's it, we didn't want anyone to be endangered by what was obviously a terrorist act by a rodent that was likely deranged by some communicable disease that we are familiar with." I wonder what role TSA had in the spin.

As an aside, don't you wish, sometimes that there were more religions that forbade the consumption of pigs so that bacon would cost less?

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Internet is for Porn

So much more than just a funny video on youtube. This survey talks about child exposure to internet porn, willful and not. I kind of wonder whether it's really all that new. Kids playing doctor, finding dad's/older brother's/friend's Playboy, catching a glimpse of a porn movie (like on a tv) or the like. There may be more of an expectation issue as a result of this than real damage (size, symmetry, what "should" feel good/be acceptable to partner, et cetera).

Friday, February 02, 2007

Brak: Oh, man, that's funny. I can't stop laughing. the city of Boston. So Cartoon network had this viral marketing for Adult Swim, specifically "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" which placed the light-bright like devices seen in the photo around Boston and 9 or 10 other cities. Boston freaked out, thinking they were bombs (check out the gloves on the guy holding the ad). No other city did. Now they are looking to press charges because they were too incompetent and want to pass the blame onto the people who thought up the idea. TBS (which owns Cartoon Network) has actually apologized...presumably to the citizens of Boston for having idiots in charge of their security. I don't watch Adult Swim as much as I used too, but I think that they have some pretty clever people on staff.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

'08 Part Five: Also Runnings

For the Democrats Al Gore is currently the only also-mention for president. I don't think he will run, but if he does we will have to hear from idiots who voted for Bush yet have the audacity to pick on Gore for his "I invented the internet" comment which, while a dumb thing to say, was linked to something in reality (though it is a reality which other US Reps and Senators can claim). I like Gore lots more now than when he was VP or running for President. I think he can do more (not inter-) net good with less stress by not running (while it is possible he would be the best president, there is no one on the ballot who can replace him in his current endeavors). Wes Clark is also mentioned a bunch on the net, but I think he had his place in the last election, and there are too many superior candidates to him already running in this one. Note for him though: he is a very strong supporter of the sciences, and is both knowledgeable and curious about scientific issues. The other candidates are mostly a collection of "whos" and "whys": Baya, Biden, Dodd, Kerry, Kucinich, and Vilsack, though Vilsack will do well in his home state of Iowa.

On the Republican side McCain and Giuliani are the apparent front runners. I think the former will be dead thanks to Bush's support for his troop surge (which will fail). The latter is probably the most likely nomination, but he's still a bit of a dark horse. He's from New York, which makes him not a favorite son of the party, and there is a perception that he is more liberal than others which is probably true. Of course he is also a huge supporter of big buisness and heavy handed crime prevention, so he'll probably manage it. Brownback is a likely GOP spoiler. He is the type of candidate to do well in a GOP primary and tank in the national. If he wins, pretty much any Dem short of Kucinich would coast to the White House...probably. He also has a fair chance of winning, especially if McCain's support dries up before the primary. Dem spoiler potentials include Giuliani, but also Romney and Pataki. Probably the only Republican who would be a favorite in Nov '08 would be Colin Powel, and there is no chance he will run after the shit storm surrounding this administration that he was part of. Giuliani and currently McCain are probably even at best, and McCain certainly won't stay there.

'08 Part Four: John Edwards

Former Senator John Edwards is probably my current top choice for the Democratic nod for President. Two chief reasons for this, and neither is related to his alma mater (UNC). One: he is a staunch supporter of the poor and working class in this country. Maybe an odd thing to say about a man who made millions as a trial lawyer--though not an odd thing to say about the son of a miner who worked hard to get through college and law school--but he is. Under Bush, and in fact since the republican takeover of congress in 1994, the wealthy in this country have had it great while the poor and working classes haven't even gotten a boost in crumbs from their plates. Poverty leads to crime, disease and poorer education, that last often leads to more poverty. Universal health care, functional social security, affordable higher education, and a better welfare/unemployment system are necessary. I believe that Edwards will work harder for those and other things to support average citizens than any of the other candidates (maybe save Richardson). That belief leads nicely to the second thing.

The second thing is a bit more gut less intellect, but I. believe. John. Edwards. speaks. for. me. For whatever reason, every time I see, hear, read about Edwards I get the feeling that if he and I spoke, that he'd listen to my ideas, give back some of his own and that we'd get along well. More, if we had gone through school together I feel as though we would have ended up friends. It's that projected persona that resonates with people. Many celebrities have it. Regan had it. Bill Clinton has it. Obama may have it. Edwards definitely does. I still don't know if he'll get my vote in the end, and it isn't his to loose, not yet, but John Edwards is currently my top Democrat candidate for president.

I should note that Edwards also voted for the war, but that is often seen as less relevant. I'm not sure entirely why. Maybe because he was willing early on to say it was a mistake, and not try and pass it off as a good vote that the president screwed up by mishandling. Maybe because he had been a senator for less than one year before the vote and would only remain one for a total of two years. That vote, however is the reason that he is not a strong favorite of mine, and could easily be replaced at the top by one of the others mentioned.

'08 Part Three: Bill Richardson

New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is arguably the most qualified candidate on the Democratic ticket (I'd probably rank Hillary and Edwards behind him, in that order). Problem is he does not have the name recognition in a crowded field with an unusually large number of credible candidates that do. There is strong support for him online, but it seems to be mixed with the feeling that he is running for Vice President.

He has executive experience as governor of a border state (immigration). He has DC experience as a former congressman. He has been U.N. ambassador and Energy Secretary. He has experience in all critical areas for a president, plus he is hispanic (fastest growing demographic in the country which is becoming increasingly blue). Everything about this guy says "winner." Except that his name will follow Obama, Clinton and Edwards. At present I do not expect him to receive the nomination. This could change come November/December. I don't know much about him, myself--in particular with respect to the economy and social programs (including education), which I consider key as most/all candidates support: bringing our troops home, increasing domestic security, reinstating our civil liberties...

I believe Bill Richardson is the candidate to watch, kind of an X-factor. If he can become better known by debate time and stand out in those debates then he could be a real contender. Even if not I think he would still be a strong choice for VP.

'08 Part Two: Hillary Clinton

I really like Hillary. I think she would make an excellent president. Just two little problems. One, about half of this country hates her. There is no reason for that hatred but it exists. I tend to think that it's driven by insecure men who fear powerful women. The same ones who have been hating on Pelosi who has had, possibly, the most productive (start for a) speaker of the house ever. That type of hatred, however, isn't something to be won over. It is not rational, and therefore cannot be overcome by rational means. Short of some moderate, popular republican going public with a dream that Jesus told (him) to support Hillary, I don't see her as being able to pick up as many swing votes. That said, I still believe she would win the general presidential election as the Democratic nominee though it would be very close, and could be 2000 all over again.

Of course she would have to be the Democratic nominee. This brings us to problem number 2: she voted for the war in Iraq. Yes, yes, we were lied to by the administration, we had faulty intelligence, et cetera, but here's the thing: lots of people heard all of that same bullshit and still didn't support the war. The country was split almost even on yes/no to go to war in Iraq with some unsure. After the vote to go to war the support jumped due to patriotism. Plenty of Congressmen and women voted against the war. Hillary didn't, and her vote, along with those of other Dems, smacks of political maneuvering, not sound judgment. Much of the driving factor in the Democratic wave last November was anti-Iraq war. In 2004 Kerry sounded the idiot with his "for it before I was against it," statement, and it generally seems a bad idea to nominate anyone who voted for this war.

I like her, but she is going to face to very difficult fights to get the position, having to win over Dems who do not approve of her Iraq war vote, then having to win over at least a few of those with an inexplicable hatred of her. The last note is: 24-28 years with a Clinton or Bush in the White House could well turn off many who want cange but don't see it in her name. It is not a fair judgment as Hillary is an actual independent, intellectual, capable, human person, while Dubbya is nothing without daddy, but it is one that will occur.

2008 Already?

No, that's not a misprint. I'm referring to the '08 presidential election. Edwars, Obama, Clinton, Richardson and also runners. This is part one: Barack Obama.

Obama seems to be the upcoming superstar candidate that people feel good about themselves for supporting. I really like 2016. It isn't the inexperience, it's his talk about the evils of partisanship. He sounds too much like Lieberman (whom I can't stand). Thanks to Commander Codpiece and the do-nothing republican congress we are going to need at least 4-8 years of partisan Democratic leadership to get this country back to even keel. They didn't try to play nice and just screwed the nation over. Dems can't start capitulating and expect things to get better. Further, Dubbya's (and the GOP's) notion is compromise is for Dems to agree with whatever he decides, compromise and true bipartisanship are not possible with that man in the Oval Office, so don't talk about it. The people in this country are about as united as they were right after 9/11...against the president and GOP. Dems don't need to compromise. They are what people want. If Barack can stop talking about being friendly, appealing to others, and striving to compromise with republicans, and start talking governing this nation to a better tomorrow, then I'll look to him as a good candidate. Of course, he can win without making me happy.