Entries Posted in "July 2004"
« Page 3 of 6 »
A Sign Things May Be Getting Out of Hand
July 22, 2004
While driving home yesterday, I pulled out my PDA and placed it on my lap (I'm a notorious multi-tasker). In any case, at a red light, I snapped this rare photo opportunity as this image is a sign things are a bit out of hand at nykola.com headquarters. When you start putting post-it notes on your electronic calendar device, it's probably time to re-examine its effectiveness. A few months back, I lost my organizer and proceeded to miss every single one of my appointments in one week. But at least it's a neon pink post-it so it stands out right? Whoever created post-it notes definitely had me in mind. Funny Stuff.
For reasons above, I shall be posting later on this morning.
Dumb Quote of the Day
July 21, 2004
"I'm a stick my non-partisan foot up John Kerry and George Bush's [early form of donkey]" - Sean "Puff Daddy/P.Diddy" Combs
"Citizen Combs" is at it again. This time, Combs' newest voter-registration endeavor is called Citizen Change whose slogan "Vote or Die", is geared towards the 18-30 year-old crowd of voters of color, or what Combs refers to as "the forgotten ones". Seriously though, where would we get our entertainment from without this man?
The always credible VH1 reports,
" As political press conferences go, it was unusual to say the least. Backed by a DJ and surrounded by chanting kids and giant monitors, P. Diddy vowed to make voting "sexy" on Tuesday as he announced his newest exploit...the media mogul/athlete/actor/fashion designer said Citizen Change's goal is to champion the cause"
So now we're making voting sexy? Okay. Am I the only one who hates that word? I must say howver, I have to give it to Puffy this time. As much as he bothers me, he's managed to do more to rally my generation around politics than anyone on the right side of things. Oh but that's right because Combs' most recent endeavor is said to be non-partisan. Not everyone is convinced,
"Despite his insistence that the group is nonpartisan, its staff consists of mostly liberal political advisors, such as James Carville, the outspoken liberal co-host of CNN's "Crossfire." The group plans to split its time "50/50 for both candidates to speak to the people." Puffy has already sat down to talk with Democratic candidate John Kerry, and he began talks with Republican Chairman Ed Gillespie on Monday night. Toward the end of his address, Puffy issued an open call to all other leaders interested in joining him, specifically imploring Republicans to become involved, saying, 'I give you my word that this is not about the party, it's about the people.'"
Puffy has promised to give Republicans equal
face time. Last week, after attending Philadelphia's NAACP convention at which Kerry spoke, Puffy caught a helicopter to meet with young Republicans gathering as part of the Bush campaign.
Interestingly enough, this week marked the official addition of both Barbara and Jenna Bush to their father's campaign. I heard on the news this morning that campaign leaders are hoping to leverage the "Sex and the City" vote with the twins' effort. Um, this shall be interesting.
Why I'm Not a Republican (Part Three): My unsuccessful quest to
[ Part I & Part II ]
Every group of individuals has its vices and Republicans are simply no different. Why am I not a Republican? If I had to answer the question in only four words, I'd say "because Republicans are boring". Be that as it may, my answer clearly begs for more details, and details I shall give. Politics these days seem to be big on promises and low on solutions. My issues with the Republican Party are few, but important.
I'm a regular reader of a fairly neo-conservative, young adult, Christian magazine. Early this year, the magazine launched a campaign and call to social action called "The Revolution". "The Revolution" was designed to be a support network and think-tank for those around the world who are effectively facilitating change and working towards the goal of empowering others in their sphere of influence. When announcing this new campaign, the editor of the magazine commented, "[our] call to social action is bound to make Conservatives uncomfortable." I meditated on this statement for days and since I consider myself conservative, I must say, I took it very personally. I couldn't quite pinpoint what angered me so, but I am now certain it is the outside perception that conservatives aren't concerned with the every-day needs and issues of certain people. What is social justice? Well, in its most basic form, it involves recognizing, championing and advocating for the needs of others unable or un-equipped to do so for themselves. It's really an amoral concept however, it's been distorted by rampant liberalism.
In my most humble opinion, the greatest area in which Republicans lack is their call to social action. While Conservatives are good at rallying behind an issue and driving home a point, the passion and the fire that seems to be lit under the rear-end of every heavy-hitting Democrat often overpowers the less assertive and seldom innovative consistency of your average, nondescript Republican. These days, the words "social, justice, and action" carry a negatively liberal stigma. I'll be the first to admit, I'm guilty of rolling my eyes almost every time I see some "tool organization" blocking traffic in protest over an issue I could really care less about. Liberals have relegated "social justice" to organized protests, petitions, boycotts, screaming matches, and Amnesty International. For a group that claims to be so "progressive", they certainly have adopted old tactics to get their message across. Here in the age of ideas, truth gets pushed to the side by whomever, or whatever can stay in the limelight the longest. We don't need to leave America to find people who need an advocate. Social justice is in our own backyard.
It is un-questionable that American morals find their root in a Judeo-Christian heritage. Dispute me on this if you will, but most of our founding political documents point otherwise. These morals took shape early on as a number of different issues, among them freedom for the slaves, loving thy neighbor as thyself, having compassion for the widow and the orphan, providing for the poor, justice in government, and free speech for all. Today, our interpretation and application of these early foundations is in desperate need of re-evaluation. On the left, our nation has devolved from moral accountability to tolerant, and all-inclusive acceptance. On the right, we have remained inactive and ineffective, on our moral high horses wondering why the rest of the country can't just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps like we did. We've adopted our "pet political doctrine" and rarely stray from the familiar and comfortable arguments. Meanwhile, in the midst of our "pet political issues", people are dying. This death is not physical but economical, emotional, and spiritual. Even worse, this "death" of sorts is in great danger of being inherited by the next generation if we don't make some major changes soon.
I don't say it often, but there are many citizens living in our country who by fault of their own via mental and systematic oppression and poor-self image have been left completely disenfranchised. Disenfranchisement. There's a word Republicans and Conservatives love to hate. I'll admit, it's not my favorite word either, and I don't use it often because it is a term that is grossly misappropriated. Nevertheless, in our aversion to this term, we often forget it is a reality for many in this nation. Even those vaguely familiar with the Biblical "Great Commission" know it involves "binding up the brokenhearted, proclaiming freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners...to rebuild...to restore...to renew...". Jesus was in the trenches, getting dirty, meeting needs, and most importantly, empowering the people. Very rarely did he hit people over the head about how and why they arrived at their place of desperation. No, he comforted, gave aid, and most importantly, he empowered others to triumph over their situation and live a higher quality of life. So why are so few Republicans in the trenches encouraging triumph? My first instinct is to assume the view from the cheap seats is better, but to be honest, it's a question I'm still waiting to have answered myself.
While Republicans have developed a distaste for the word "disenfranchised", they have failed to recognize the very moral principles on which our country was founded. Welfare, healthcare, affirmative action, and abortion rights seem to be a hotbed of controversy these days. For the most part, the Republican party makes clear their stance on these issues. Their stance is generally one with which I agree, although I am not so sold on their solutions if and when they exist. It is time for the "problem announcers" to become the "problem solvers". There are times when it feels quite literally like we conservatives are beating the air.
As much as it pains me to concede a strength, in the absence of genuine leadership in key areas, the Democrats have stepped up to the plate and usually end up being the only ones offering any tangible solutions to our nation's dirty laundry. Democrats have spent billions of dollars on ineffective welfare programs and tax initiatives because they were able to convince the general public that they had the "right" solutions. Shady and ineffective as they may be, when it seems Democrats are the only ones doing the talking, "the people" are at a loss. Unfortunately, we live in a country full of people sorely lacking independent judgment and critical thinking skills. These same folks, if left independent of a leader, will become so thirsty for genuine leadership, they will turn on themselves and as Michael J. Fox's character "Louis" said in the Liberal movie The American President,
"...crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."
The argument then becomes a question of whether those people drink the sand by educated choice, or do they even know the difference?
Meanwhile, Republicans have successfully become resounding gongs and clanging symbols, but often lack the key ingredient of love and compassion for people in their message. Sometimes, I wonder why liberals don't hate us conservatives even more. In the heat of politics and getting the upper hand, I sometimes grapple with whether or not "love" is even there. Even with my outright bluntness and hard stance on many issues, very rarely can I actually stomach the likes of Rush Limbaugh. Republicans have banished themselves and become the predictable nightmare we call "a political party". At times, their policy is like watching paint dry. Dull, dry, unaffected, lacking innovation. I fear the constant yapping and rodomontade against affirmative-action and preferential treatment every time the word "race" is mentioned or the terribly mundane "abstinence education" rhetoric is beginning to get bloody old. Surely in all the wisdom and knowledge accessible to men, there is something more comprehensive that can be brought to the table?
This era begs for an innovative sound. Conservatives cannot afford to be boring. It pains me that day in and day out, I can watch Hannity & Colmes and The O'Reilly Factor (although Bill is a personal favorite), or read The National Review and World Magazine and hear the same dull ranting, raving and "partyspeak". The Republican answer is often predictable and aged. It is time for the innovators to emerge and shape the conservative culture of the 21st century. The issues are complex and will take more than much of our run-of-the-mill conservative legislation. The more I examine the major issues impacting our nation, and for me specifically, the black community, the more I realize the inadequacy of any sole political party's ability to play god.
(Final Part Four Forthcoming)
Just What Should You be Reading?
July 20, 2004
The subject of books abounds! Do you have a homogenized bookshelf? My mind got thinking again this weekend when I caught some more dialogue on reading necessities. In a recent article, care of college student (and kindred spirit) Rachel Durado at the Banana Republican, writer Kelly Jane Torrance compares the readings lists of British and American celebrities,
"How do American celebrities compare? Oprah magazine gives us some of their picks. All too often, they lack the idiosyncratic touch and therefore resemble course requirements for Diversity 101. Hillary Clinton's list includes The Joy Luck Club, The Poisonwood Bible, The Color Purple, The Clan of the Cave Bear, Wild Swans, and West With the Night by pioneer female aviator Beryl Markham. What a virtuous reader our former First Lady is!
The selection made by America's other First Lady, Katie Couric, is just as solemn, but strangely dated: Black Like Me, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Huckleberry Finn, The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Of Mice and Men, A Patch of Blue. It turns out Couric gave Oprah the names of her childhood favorites. What an earnest young woman she must have been!
On the other hand, Nigella Lawson, the English celebrity chef, is not ashamed to admit her love of the now savagely derided children's author Enid Blyton. Lawson says of Blyton's The Naughtiest Girl in the School, 'This book taught me how deeply enjoyable reading is, and that's what counts.' Reading--it's not just a grim duty!"
Oprah's picks resemble a booklist from a Diversity 101 course? I couldn't agree more. Just this past weekend, the National Center for Public Policy Research
, a conservative organization recently received a letter
written on behalf of a young black man. The subject? Recommended reading by black authors.
I mentor a young black man who is going to go to college next year. I was wondering if you had a list of literature or suggestions for some reading material. He is interested in economics and business. I was hoping for some ethics, philosophy, and history titles as well. I would prefer if the authors were black. He attends a majority white private Catholic school where he is one of the brightest students; I want him to have some black intellectual experience too.
Thank you for your time.
In a response, fellow Conservative Brotherhood member Michael Cobb Bowen has given his own recommendations
in true "to be continued" format. Interestingly enough, he's divided the authors into the categories of "Philosophicals" and of course my ultimate favorite, "Existentialists". Among the authors, he mentioned the works of Cornel West, Malcolm X, and Skip Gates. I used to be in love with Cornel West, almost to the point of obsession. I read all of his books including his lengthy "reader". In retrospect, I can't figure out if it was his ideas I was in love with or just the fact that I was so thirsty to read something half-way intelligent by a black author that I was hanging on every word he wrote.
I'm fairly certain that the question at hand in this letter is not one I could answer very quickly. Although I've read the works of a significant among of black authors, narrowing down the must-reads takes a bit of examination. Much of my education afforded me a somewhat lop-sided presentation of intellectual thought. The writer of the letter remarked that the boy about which she was writing was a student of a private, predominately, white Catholic school. It is obvious she felt he was lacking something in his own education or else she wouldn't have written.
When I was in school, a good portion of the books we read and analyzed were written by the same types of people. Those people were usually dead, white, or male. While some were classics, others were just all around good pieces of writing. If someone asked me to list off recommended reading based on white authors alone, I could produce a big fat list. It would be rather ignorant of me to think that the reason for this is some sort of lack in ability amongst authors of color. Nevertheless, teachers never failed to throw in that one (and sometimes two) token book(s) of the semester written by an author of color. This was a strategy that proved itself to be a set-up. The lopsided percentage of "old, white, male" authors compared to most others was dreadfully apparent. This being the case, that one "colorful" book we read each semester had to be pretty gosh darn good or else we'd all start forming our negative opinions about authors of color and their inability to write coherent thoughts. At the time I read it, Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior pretty much decimated my desire to read future works of Asian-American authors.
The question of what a person should (or should have) read is really quite complex. I don't believe it is the same answer for every person. As a black, woman, intellectual living in America, it would behoove me to have certain pieces of writing under my belt. This knowledge doesn't necessarily serve as bragging rights or give me some exclusive edge in conversation at the dinner table. No. This knowledge serves a purpose beyond shallow table references. It gives me the foundation and knowledge to understand the history of thought as it relates to my own race of people. If I intend to be at all relevant in my daily affairs as it relates to my own cultural heritage (both claimed and unclaimed), there are certain things I can't afford not to know. The same is true of anyone based on their sphere of influence and activity on the Earth. While no actor should go without studying Shakespeare, the average person could care less about Macbeth.
I'm odd in that I don't really have any favorite books. Instead, I have a list of books that drastically impacted my life and my way of thinking. Life-changing books are not always those I agree with, as they are often either insightful or inciteful. At times, I can grasp more insight from Hitler's Mein Kampf or Sanger's Motherhood in Bondage than I can reading the exalted works of many of our glorified thinkers. I am an avid used-bookstore shopper. This could be the nerd in me fighting to get out, but I think it's more the fact that I'm more likely to stumble across a rare jewel in small-time bookstores than I am less-likely to find in the commercialized Barnes & Noble. Although, I'll admit Barnes & Noble gets a fair amount of my money.
That letter got me thinking. How many of us have ever even bothered to ask the question, "what should I be reading"? It's something that beckons more discussion and I fear that all too often, we let the New York Times or Oprah make the decision on our behalf.
Authors Find a Niche With Singles
The New York Times published an interesting article yesterday on the booming self-help book business for singles. The focus of the article was Christian singles. I think the preferable term here is "unmarried". God never called us single. The article focuses mostly on author and motivational speaker (I hate that term) Michelle MicKinney Hammond, whose 20 some odd books have been primarily marketed to Christian woman. I've read bits and pieces of her work and I was never really impressed. And trust me when I say I've read just about everything there is out there in this area. It's a topic that is near to my heart as I watch the women of my generation legally prostitute themselves.
I think we've got a lot of reform to do both in the body of Christ and in the world in how men and women relate to eachother and how we view singleness or "unmarriedness". I believe two major things have hindered women.
1)Too much independence
2)Too much dependence on a human relationship for wholeness
Perhaps I'm using this as a placeholder for later discussion. There's an interesting dynamic that's been going on in our country for quite some time; we practice divorce.
More on that later...
Momma Said There'd be Days Like This
July 19, 2004
Every now and then, I wake up in the morning and think, "Someone please tell me this is not my life". Today was one of those days. Don't get me wrong, I am one of those people who lives without regret and is in love with life and its hilarious tendencies. However, it seems these days, I am desperately in need of some rest and relaxation otherwise known as a vacation. Sometimes, I call myself the "oldest 22-year-old I know"; figuratively speaking. I say certain things that just plain should not be coming out of my youthful mouth. Things like "my feet hurt" or "I need to go pay bills" or "my how you've grown!" or "sorry can't stay out late, I've got work in the morning" or "that boy needs to pull his pants up!". I knew it was bad when last night, I kept nodding off at my desk in the midst of writing a post. "Oh no" I thought, surely I have not become my mother.
I understand that I don't have a kids (thank God) or a husband (soon enough), or many of the other things that drive people to the nutty place at which I currently exist. Keeping this in mind, I do try to keep my life in humble perspective. But maybe there are some of you out there who can identify with the great burden it is to be the blacksheep in life, your family, your sphere of influence, or even worse, your age bracket. For reasons only God knows, my age has not hindered me in the least. Maybe this is why I don't subscribe to the "level playing field" argument. In my lifetime, I've had tremendous doors opened for me, been given promotions and favor minus a college degree, and probably carry more responsibility than the average 22-year-old. Responsibility is something you grow up wanting and grow old hating. I'm not old, but I already hate it. And trust me, I have my days (although few and far between) when I wish I could just go back to college and be a hapless, debt-free student again. That's usually the youth in me reminding me that I still have the right to kick back and have fun.
I am familiar with this "contemplative feeling" as it happens every July when I realize how much of my lovely young adulthood I've sacrificed to "the call". Last summer it got so bad, on a whim, I almost dropped everything and flew to Hawaii--by myself. At the time I would've preferred it that way, but in retrospect, I'm glad I didn't. Unfortunately, due to a hectic work schedule, the closest thing I'm going to get to a vacation this summer is a few extended business trips in August to Southern California and the East coast, and an out-of-town friend's nuptials. Even then, I'm bound to stay busy. Question for the masses: Is it possible to "not do anything"? If anyone knows, please tell me your secret as I am very interested in that formula for success. Most of the time, I find that I need to take vacations from my vacation (if you know what I mean).
The way things are going, it's looking like the next couple of years will have me bicoastal from Washington to Virginia. I am not too thrilled about this but nevertheless, not my will. Submission is sometimes painful. Joyful submission is downright evil.
Today, I woke up with absolutely, positively nothing to say or write. Well, except these here words. Silence from "the botherer"? I know, it's bizarre, but I promised myself when I kicked this "thing" off that if I didn't have anything worth writing, I wouldn't write at all. Hopefully I'll be back to my normal, verbose self tomorrow. I've got lots inside of me, but this was one of those days when I just couldn't get it out. Is this the essence of constipated stagnation? Yeah, that must be what this is. Tonight I'll take an enema and be back with a vengeance tomorrow.
Ugh. I hate these days.
This Was Not What I Signed Up For
July 16, 2004
Funny. I've lamented every holiday about my distaste for the sappy and disingenuous nature of greeting card companies. I went against my card-nonethusiast nature the other day when in the store, I couldn't help but drop $2.49 on the absolute worst card I've ever seen. At first glance you may think this is intended to be joke-card of sorts. I wish I could say that was the case but trust me, it's not. Thank Carlton Cards for this one:
[ Card Front & Inside Respectively ]
Can I just shout an emphatic "No!"? No this dismal cubicle does not
make the hours of tedius labor, cramming, thesis-writing and exams of the average college or grad school graduate seem anywhere NEAR worthwhile, thank you very much. This is on top of the crappy starting salary and the college loans. Judging from the testimonies of my friends, folks aren't too happy with what they signed up for. If anyone in my family even brought this card anywhere near me on my (would-be) graduation day, I'd return it to get the $2.49 back so I could apply it towards my college loan interest. End of story. Hands down, worst card I've ever seen. In my life. Seriously.
Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience
Question of the Day:
At what point does child nudity cease being "innocent"?
"Whose Line is it Anyway" Points if you know what book of poetry that title is from.
Update: No really, I'm seriously asking the question. This is not about child porn (odd people took it that way). I used the picture to left as an example. Some years ago everybody had that "innocent" naked baby picture lying around. Where do we draw the line? We got asked this question in a seminar once. Picture yourself at the beach, there are parents who let their babies and toddlers run free like the wind. At want point is it time to cover up?
July 15, 2004
The tizzy in the comments section of "Political Polarization" post got me thinking about this "groupthink" thing. I'm lifting something off of fellow Conservative Brotherhood member Cobb's site:
Ideological Coherence, Small Groups, Established Institutional Identity, Loyalty
Discussion that takes place in the context of assumed consensus.
Do you agree with this definition? Under what, if any circumstances is groupthink okay? Based on that definition, I can think of one, although I won't say right now.
In the corporate environment people just make up words and concepts. One thing we use around my workplace is "braintrust". That is, my trust that you're smart and I'll go along with whatever decision you make, without even knowing what the decision is. This is of course much different than "groupthink". It seems to me groupthink doesn't always imply that there's "braintrust".
Alright, enough conceptual idioms. My brain's gonna go 'splody.
The Nature of Botherance
It seems my recent discussion of our "great" classics has bothered a few. This is music to my irreverent ears. One person has even gone as far as to form a rebuttal on the greatness of The Great Gatsby. Thankfully, however, this same person as well as a few others have picked up the ax and begun listing their least favorite force-fed novels. Makes me feel good to know I've done my part to bother others and spur them onto "paying forward" the bothering. Perhaps I shall call it "Bothering forward". Somewhere there's a screenplay in there.
In light of a few snide comments and not-so-nice emails I've been receiving lately all of which I answer by the way, (except the one telling me white people rule the world and black people should be exterminated off the Earth), I'd like to remind certain folks that under the moniker "nykola.com" my tagline is not stroking the common opinion since 1981, it's bothering people since 1981. Now If people don't like that, then I've successfully done my job (smile).
When I first started this web thing, I thought of a couple different taglines:
- "inciting riots since..."
- "inducing labor since..."
- "sending people back to nicotine since..."
As these are all things I've managed to do in my lifetime. However, "bothering people" was the least abrasive and the most fun. Somebody left a comment one day saying "The thing I love about the internet is its potential to shock". I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, this is both a virtue and a vice. I will always aim to be clean, fair, respectful, and honest, but not always nice. This could make me or break me, but since I can dish it, I sure can take it. Tally ho!