Wednesday, December 03, 2014

On Justice, Anger, and Stepping Stones

Police officers do an incredibly difficult job at great personal risk. As the tangible enforcing arm of "The Man", they're almost always "fair game "to make fun of and disrespect, even and especially by the people they're serving. At times, their job leaves them emotionally and psychologically scarred. At times, doing their duty means being injured or killed. And their families share in these burdens along with them. It's a job I could never perform. As in any group, the majority of them are fine people. They do everything from protecting our neighborhoods, to helping us when we get lost, to dodging bullets from bad guys - all while enduring an unfathomable about of stress. And they do it all voluntarily. The problem isn't with police officers. Police officers are awesome! The problem is with our criminal justice system. And, though one is partially comprised of the other, police officers alone do not a criminal justice system make. A criminal just system isn't an officer any more than a corporation is a person. The issue isn't isn't personal. It's political. It's cultural. And it's contextualized by our shared legacy of discrimination and differential treatment. And it's all of these things in tandem - the political, the cultural, the historical - that built a justice system that tends to treat people differently based on race. Part of that system's failings is that it makes room for a few bad cops to do bad things and get away with it. And, to be sure, considering all the good that good cops accomplish, the "cops gone bad" scenarios are infrequent. But they happen. And, more often than not, minorities are on the negative consequential end of that "cops gone bad" scenario. It's important to recognize and address this. Part of that includes talking about it. Us. Even though we may not have the answer or the power to solve anything. That said, whether the shooting death of Michael Brown or the choking death of Eric Garner were about race or not, isn't as relevant as the conversations they have sparked about race, justice, privilege, and many other things. I regret that either happened at all, but I'm glad that they got us all talking. To that end, furthering the narrative that the death of Michael Brown or Eric Garner is CLEARLY and CERTAINLY all about race or ABSOLUTELY NOT AT ALL about race is overly simplistic and intellectually dishonest if not outright antagonistic. Both approaches ignore the complex nuances and context of the cases. And, more often than not, rather than critically examining evidence, both approaches stand on false givens and judgmental finger-pointing. Without a doubt, there is a lot of emotion involved in these conversations, and with good reason! There's a lot of pent up emotion from people who've been wronged whose voices haven't been heard and a lot of confusion and anger from people who are feeling under attack. To be sure, this is the most inelegant of stepping stones. But it IS a stepping stone. We ARE talking. And that's a great thing. Because, while talking itself may not BE the answer, I believe that it can get us to one. And I'm perfectly willing to have the messy and difficult conversations that NEED to happen in order for us to find an answer. Because I am one of the many out there who really don't get it are sincerely trying to understand. And I know I'm not alone.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Rules of Engagement

Recent incidents in Ferguson, MO have touched of a number of heated conversations in person and online. I personally have been messaged by a GREAT many persons looking to get my opinion, offer theirs, or ask questions. And I get it. I have questions as well. I want understanding. I want perspective. But in order for us to have meaningful productive exchanges, we've got to agree to some ground rules/facts. And, since so many folk have messaged me looking to have these exchanges, I figured I'd lay out a few things to consider before you decide to engage me (or others, for that matter) on this issue. *
1. Anecdotes are not evidence.
Sure, it happened. Maybe even a lot. Maybe even to everyone you KNEW. But that doesn't make it evidence of a larger fact. You know a lot of black people who try and cheat the welfare systems? That's awful. Still runs counter to the fact that MOST don't.
Hardly anyone does, really. According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics website, based on the 2012 IPIA three-Year average data report, fraud was prevalent in 2.67% of cases. Look it up.
Your lived experience is VALID but it is NOT valid evidence of anything EXCEPT your lived experience.
2. Opinions and feelings are not facts.
I believe the Boston Red Sox to be the greatest baseball team on the face of the Earth. I believe that blue looks good on me. I believe that Nick Frost is entirely made of magic.
I believe all of these things fully and with my whole heart, but none of them are true. Moreover, the strength of my feelings regarding any of these things is valid but entirely irrelevant in terms of their basis in fact.
I believe these things strongly. Very strongly. Doesn't make them true.
Pro Tip: Saying "we'll have to agree to disagree" does not validate opinion opposed to fact. If we're talking about baseball, we'll have to agree to disagree. If we're talking about what school I attend and you "feel" it's Ohio State, that doesn't matter.
It's just not factual.
And, speaking of factual...
3. Life in America is different for black people.
That's a thing. In fact, that has literally always been a thing. And by literally I mean 100% of the time that America has been a country, life in America has been different for black people and all non-white people. And by different I mean generally more difficult if not downright oppressive.
That is not a mythological long-ago past truth, that is our current reality. This is a difficult thing for the white people I've spoken with to wrap their heads around but it's true and demonstrably so. Specifically, blacks experience all aspects of the criminal justice system differently than white people; police, courts, prison, probation, etc. This is true by virtually any measure. These are nasty facts but they are facts.
4. The "Progress Has Been Made" Argument misses the point
Oppression is still oppression. Or, if you prefer, inequality is still inequality. Sure, "less" is better but it still IS. All oppression is abominable and intolerable. Arguing that it's "so much better now" misses the point.
5. Being black doesn't mean I'm automatically right or have all the answers
This is a "we" issue much in the same way that breast cancer is a "we" issue or child abuse is a "we" issue. Sure, a certain segment is at the forefront and experiencing the brunt of the punishment, but it's still up to US to address and solve it.
And, make no mistake, its going to take all of us to sort this out. Yes, that means you and me. Yes, even on the internet.
And, yes, even exchanges on the internet can be valid and meaningful. That's a thing. In fact, I'd argue, that's the POINT.
* TL;DR - Anecdotes aren't evidence. Opinions/feelings aren't facts. Racism is real and relevant. Eradication, not progress, is the end-game. And it's going to take all of us to get there.
That's not so hard, is it? I hope not. And I hope to hear from even more of you in the next few days. We won't solve the whole problem but maybe we'll pave a bit of road so that it's easier to get the ball rolling.
Let's give it a try.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Soda Ban Explained, Still and Awful Idea.

Filmaker Casy Neistat offers an explanation of the proposed NYC 'Soda Ban':

To start — the proposed ban on large, sugary drinks isn’t really a ban on anything. Even if the New York City Board of Health passes the ban this coming Thursday, 7-Eleven, the ubiquitous convenience-store chain, will still be able to serve its 50-ounce Orange Explosion Slurpee, which contains 107 grams of sugar, the equivalent of nearly four full-size Snickers bars. Dunkin’ Donuts could still sell its large Vanilla Bean Coolatta (174 grams of sugar, or nearly six Snickers bars, in its 32 ounces). And if you can find a place with unlimited refills, you can still drink as much soda as you like. 
The proposal would not include alcohol, fruit juices or any diet soda. Grocery stores and convenience stores would be exempt. Iced coffee and other beverages where the sugar is added by the customer would remain unaffected. Drinks are also exempt if they contain more than 50 percent milk, which would most likely allow Dunkin’ Donuts to sell Coolattas, and Starbucks Frappuccinos, as long as they can prove the milk content is there. Buying multiple 16-ounce drinks is also O.K. The ban will certainly not stop people from getting exactly what they want, as Mayor Bloomberg has made clear. 
“All we’re doing here is educating,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “It forces you to see the difference.” Limiting the serving size forces people to consider how much they’re ingesting. Earlier this year the Center for Consumer Freedom ran a full-page ad in The Times saying that “New Yorkers need a Mayor, not a Nanny.” With 58 percent of adults in New York City overweight or obese and 5,800 deaths a year in the city because of obesity, it is evident that some people just aren’t responsible enough to feed themselves. This lack of nutritional responsibility affects everyone — obesity costs the city $4 billion a year in direct medical costs. A nanny is just what New York City, and the rest of America, needs.

Meh - still a shit idea. Click here for the whole story, including a brief video.

Someone in the NFL Loves Me


As if burly men tussling in tight pants wasn't boner inducing enough...

One of the biggest offseason moves in the NFL was a billion-dollar deal that affected every franchise. The league switched to Nike as its uniform supplier after 10 years with Reebok, and the new line made its debut as the regular season got underway.

Generally speaking, with the Seattle Seahawks being the notable exception, most of Nike's changes were under-the-hood stuff: Staying cool, keeping dry, feeling comfortable, etc.
Perhaps the most noticeable wrinkle was the addition of designs around the collar, on the sides and in the back. 
But much of Nike's media push has focused on the functionality, and that includes the use of roughly a dozen different fabrics on a single uniform to maximize ventilation, durability and comfort. 
"Designed and engineered from the inside out, the new uniform focuses on creating a system where the baselayer, padding, jersey and pant work in concert," Nike notes in its press release.
Of course, advances in technology come with unintended consequences or unfortunate byproducts -- or both, if you happened to be watching the Lions-Rams game Sunday. Check out the multi-fabric concept in jarring reality, courtesy of Detroit left tackle Jeff Backus:

I hear you, Jesus. I'll watch more football.

Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

They're BACK! KFC Chicken Littles

Holy Snackey! KFC has decided to revive their Chicken Littles sandwiches!

Except they haven't.

Confused? Feast your eyes on this, gang:

It’s been more than 20 years since KFC sold a Chicken Littles sandwich nationally. Since that time, passionate fans have placed calls to KFC headquarters, started petitions and built Facebook pages asking for the sandwich to return to the menu. A recent poll on the KFC Facebook page asked fans what menu item from the past they’d like to see back at KFC. Chicken Littles was the overwhelming favorite, garnering more support than any other menu item. And now, KFC is introducing the new and improved Chicken Littles – updated for the 21st century and even better than the original!
“We think fans of the original Chicken Littles are going to love the ‘new Littles’ even more,” added Marker. “From 100 percent all-white breast meat chicken to the soft, sweet bun, everything about Chicken Littles is new and improved. With this great sandwich, ‘little really is the new big!’”
Chicken Littles can be ordered either a la carte or in a combo option. Combos include two Chicken Littles, a side item and a medium drink. Customers can purchase Chicken Littles for just $1.29 each or, for a limited time, the Chicken Littles Combo (two sandwiches, a side item and a medium drink) for $5. (Pricing and participation may vary. Tax extra.)

When they first came on the scene, I ate these bad boys by the dozen and wept, laughing opened-mouthed at the sky, thanking baby Jesus and Super Mario for finally collaborating on a meal for The People.

Now they've gone ahead and "improved" them?

Fuck the entire tidal wave of flavor nostalgia that the Chicken Little revival movement was based on, KFC. Just shit on my childhood deliciousness and IMPROVE something that was perfect to begin with. 

While your at it, why not get a team together to try and make high fives and blow jobs more awesome?


Get the full breadth of the crisis here
Read more here:

Binge Drinking Make College Students Happier


(via Gawker)

A study unveiled at this year's American Sociological Association meeting purports to show that college students who engage in binge drinking are, on average, happier and more socially satisfied than those who practice moderation.
The study, which relied on the survey responses of some 1,600 students from "a selective residential liberal arts college in the Northeast," found that social satisfaction was high among members of high-status groups (i.e. wealthy, white, frat boys) compared to low-status groups (i.e. poor, LGBTQ non-Greek minorities). 
According to ABC News' Medical Unit, which has access to the complete study, "binge drinking is defined as consuming more than four drinks per session for females and consuming more than five drinks per session for males."

Wait wait... let me write this down: "Drinking makes you feel happy and social." 


I hope these guys do a study on other suspiciously awesome things like masturbation or tacos. To be safe, I'll be holding off on BOTH until then.    #lies

Read the whole story here

Batman Film to be Rebotted after Justice League Film

(via FilmDrunk)

1) They are making a Justice League movie (Is it going to feature Martian Manhunter prominently or WHAAAT??!!)
2) THEN they will start up with the whole Batman series reboot (tentative title: Spaceballs: The Flamethrower)
We heard this all from the fellas at Batman on Film (how they’ll handle the upcoming digital age remains unclear at press time). Here’s the whole article.

You read that correctly. Batman Reboot.

Someone wants to IMMEDIATELY follow Christopher Nolan's films, presumably having watched Nolan's films and reached the conclusion that they could do better. Or that there was more that needed to be sa

id on the subject of "Batman" right away. Or that we weren't already knee-deep in Batman material and decidedly lacking in Wonder Woman material.

Why don't they just make another Hulk or Punisher movie? They haven't completely faced-raped those franchises! 

Oh. Wait...

Read the whole (hilarious) story here

Paul Ryan TOTALLY Wasn't Blaming Obama For GM Plant Closure

Apparently, we misheard him. 

Allow him to explain.

(via Huffington Post)

"What they are trying to suggest is that I said Barack Obama was responsible for the plant shutdown in Janesville. That is not what I was saying, read the speech," he told NBC's "Today." "What I was saying is the president ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After the plant was shut down he said he would lead efforts to restore the plant. It’s still idle." 
But Ryan appeared to be blaming Obama for the closure of the plant, located in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., in his speech: 
"My home state voted for President Obama," he said Wednesday. "When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory." 
"A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant," Ryan said. "Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: 'I believe that if our government is there to support you...this plant will be here for another hundred years.' That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight."
For the record, Obama never promised to keep the plant open. That's pretty clear. I don't have a clever follow-up zinger for that one. Paul Ryan is a back-peddling liar. 
And a bad one at that.
Read the whole story here.

Romney's RNC Numbers are Dismal


We're back.

And this happened.

"The scores are in for Mitt Romney's RNC speech last week. In short, they don't look so good for the GOP nominee. 
Romney's prime-time remarks received positive marks from just 38 percent of respondents in a new Gallup survey, the lowest total of any major party's presidential candidate since the polling outfit began asking the question back after the 1996 Republican National Convention. 
Here were Romney's marks: 20 percent rated the speech "excellent," 18 percent called it "good," 21 percent went the "just okay" route, 6 percent called it "poor," and 10 percent said it was "terrible." The remaining 26 percent either hadn't seen it or had no opinion.  
For comparison, John McCain received positive marks from 47 percent of respondents back in 2008. Then-Sen. Barack Obama, meanwhile, cleaned up with "excellent" or "good" marks from 58 percent of those polled, the highest total of the eight speeches surveyed by Gallup. 

*sad trombone*

Read the whole story at Slate here. Have a look at the Gallup Survery here.