Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tchau meus amigos...para agora

Okay, so I will be M.I.A. for a little bit. Going off to explore the allure of Rio de Janiero, Brazil ! But as I was doing some tremendous research on this beautiful city I couldn’t help but be bombarded by several warnings to be safe. In fact, it is the report of the several crime rates that turns many people off of this city. However it is a major tourist destination and almost everyone who goes always goes back (even if they were the victim of a crime while visiting). Call me crazy but if I got jacked in jersey I won’t return! So that leads me to wonder, if you use street smarts, is the city just getting a bum rap because of it’s economic back ground (it’s considered third world) and large amount of “brown people”? I mean, I’m in Baltimore and you’d think from the Wire and the amount of people who ask me is it dangerous here (including our popular New Yorkers) that we are in a warzone. We are a blue collar, for the most part, brown city as well.

But I’m not na├»ve enough to suggest that Rio doesn’t have its problems and that I plan to walk around swinging my purse in the air to prove a point (I like for me and money to part as little as possible, call me overprotective of it). I think what gets to me is that in some cities and countries, the poorer the area the less protection. We’ve heard the jokes, living in the ghetto the police/ambulance take forever to get to you. But if you live in a “nicer” area they are there before you hang the phone up. Part of what makes people fear the crime in Rio , or so I’ve heard of course, is the belief in an uncontrolled chaos. You could be in a shantytown/ghetto/favela and its calm one moment and a shoot out the next (of course I plan not to visit those places but that’s just me) and people describe the police as not as helpful. So I wonder, are the police less helpful in poorer neighborhoods? Why? Too dangerous, too hopeless, too much? Even the way poorer people or minorities are treated by authority is of a lesser nature than other groups. I remember the security guards would pepper spray people during a fight (even spectators or passerbyers) at my predominantly black high school (and the students were not poor or of a lower economic class). The phrase “if you treat them like animals they’ll act like it” never rang so true then. And part of me wonders if that is true in many aspects of life.
But I digress… see ya soon!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

So in light of the writer’s strike and the lack of new programming, I rented a movie called Idiocracy. And it got me thinking along with some conversations with friends, that maybe we as a society should be more advanced than we are now. Don’t want to give it all away but the premise of the movie is, Luke Wilson, an average military guy, and Maya Rudolph, a prostitute (and the only type of woman the scientist could find with the same level of intelligence as the average man…) who , in a military experiment, get frozen and are mistakenly thawed out 500 years in the future instead of the one year they were sent in for. But this future is no Total Recall or Jetsons. In this future everyone is dumb as all hell. Most people (in the US that is) talk one of three ways- hillbilly, valley girl/surfer dude, or ebonics. The fact that Luke's character can speak proper English puts him in the retard and gay categories. It’s a comedy (and actually kinda funny) but it’s also a bit disturbing. The point of the movie is that people in today’s society don’t value intelligence like they used to (Albert Einstein was well known but who the heck knows genius’ now? We focus on Brittany Spears instead. Further, the movie suggest that those with low IQ s are having more and more kids while those who are highly intelligent aren’t having as many or aren’t having kids at all. Finally the movie states that the smart people focused more on finding cures for aesthetic things like hair loss over other more society moving concepts.
So , I wonder, are we headed towards idiocracy? I believe we are smarter than generations past but I am concerned that enough of us aren’t acting on our intelligence. At the same time
I also have a hard time believing our society would end up becoming stunted and not push for intelligence and societal advancement, but hey we voted Bush, right?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Not Milk?

I got this picture off of The Center for Food Safety http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/cloned_animals.cfm and thought it was humorous. After hearing the today show talk about how the FDA has now approved the use of milk and meats from cloned animals I had to do some digging. Furthermore, not only is it out there, but the FDA doesn’t require seller’s to label the food that comes form clones! I’m still a little skeptical about the whole cloning thing. I mean I guess it can solve a food shortage or help amputees but still… I guess the issue is, I’d like the right to decide whether I’m drinking milk from clone XJ9 instead of Betsy the cow. I guess the underlying thought is that if people had a choice they’d go for Betsy over XJ9. People are already putting out petitions about the lack of labeling. Since cloning is so new I think people are right to be concerned about it all. Especially when we’re talking about eating such things. I just am still a bit freaked out that we’re even cloning things now! How Jetsons is that!

And in other news…

The Maryland legislature will begin meeting today to decide whether hanging a noose should be considered a hate crime. Well… initially I want to say hell to the yes. But then I wonder is the act itself of hanging anything on someone’s door or in car or cubicle area a crime? My understanding of hate crimes as they are now is that someone is already doing something illegal to another (beating them up, harassing them), if they are doing it due to race then the crime jumps to a hate crime. So I guess if the noose destroys property or is seen as a form of harassment (which in my mind it is what with it’s racial history, although I admit to hanging my roommates favorite stuff animal by a noose our freshman year of college, she was white by the way, I apologize), the argument should be yes! Hanging a noose should be added as a hate crime in my humble opinion.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Come on Hollywood!

Okay, so as an aspiring writer I can’t help but to have taken note to the Hollywood writer’s strike these past couple of months. I side with the writer’s of course. They deserve to make all the profits that the actors and producers get. After all, without their ideas, there would be no Hollywood, as we are beginning to see. It seems the writers are being treated like garbage men. You turn your nose up at them but if we didn’t have them the place would be full of crap! Now, I hear that four major studios have canceled the contracts of some writers as a concession that this strike will not end before this TV season concludes. Which means once our favorite TV shows get all caught up with already filmed and completed episodes, no more for us. Possibly before the May grand finale month. And who knows what that will do for next season or the movies?

As a self proclaimed TV addict I say give them what they want! You saw how lame the People’s Choice and Golden Globe awards were due to the strike (I mean they had entertainment news reporters host and announce awards).

Or how late night TV was M.I.A. for a while. How do you expect to go on without the damn writers!? You’re going to force me to start watching Turner Classic Movies soon and I don’t want to do that! So, please, work it out people! Do you really want more I Love New York type shows (I really think I’m pretty much done with them)? Get it together!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Is America ready for a Black President- Chris Rock thinks so!

Okay, so I saw this on another site (http://www.reappropriate.com) and had to post on mine as well. This is a Chris Rock segment on SNL talking about Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama running for president. Ignorant as hell but still humourous!


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Another political update- for the Non politics lovers

UPDATE:- Don't call it a comback- So Hilary won the NH primaries. Was it because of showing a bit of emotion in an earlier speech? Her husband calling Obama out on the fact that he has been able to "skate" by without much angry fingers pointed his way for some not so great decisons/or points of views? Or the fact that female supporters showed up in power numbers to vote their gal in? Who knows but I tell you the fight is not over!
And here is another excellent site to give those undecided a better understanding of where the candidates stand. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/politics/chi-071218candidates-htmlpage-css,0,5808944.htmlpage?coll=bal_tab01_layout


So Obama an McCain are leading in the New Hampshire polls and an emotional Clinton may have her dream defered. Per Mr. Matt Lauder on the Today show, since 1972 the winner of the New Hampshire race has usually been the one to win their parties election. So this may mean Obama may be the Democratic runner for President (although the rest of us still gotta vote next month- don't slack up now (I believe we in MD vote February 12, 2008). As for the republicans, What does McCains projected win in New Hampshire mean since Romney scored in Iowa. Are the republicans in still an any man's game? I know I don't care since I'm not republican and am pretty satisfied with what the democrats have to offer.
In fact, those who identify themselves as Democrats have gone up in the past few months while the Republican identification has gone down. Hmm. Further, Obama is attracting the young vote (much like Bill did) and independents which can always play a big factor (how can we not forget Nader's influence during Dubba Bush's first battle for the white house).

I don't know you guys, this is getting interesting. Now we need to really pay attention to the platforms and think for ourselves.

This little site was interesting too - its a quiz you take to see whose ideals you line up with.


Monday, January 7, 2008

It's too late to Apologize?

So New Jersey is proposing to put forth an official apology for slavery. They will be the first northern state to do such (and reportedly the largest northern state to have slaves). However, Republican Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll says nay to that. I highlighted the “thought provoking” parts in red. See below: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/01/01/america/NA-GEN-US-Slavery-Apology.php

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey would become the first Northern state and the fifth state overall to apologize for slavery under a measure to be considered this week by state lawmakers.
Legislators in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia have issued formal apologies.
"If former Confederate states can take action like this, why can't a Northeast state like New Jersey?" asked Payne, a Democrat from Essex.
But Republican lawmakers wonder if it would be relevant.
"Who living today is guilty of slave-holding and thus capable of apologizing for the offense?" asked Assemblyman Richard Merkt, a Morris Republican. "And who living today is a former slave and thus capable of accepting the apology? So how is a real apology even remotely possible, much less meaningful, given the long absence of both oppressor and victim?"
But Payne, an Essex Democrat, said an apology would comfort black residents and set an example for other states. "Slavery was an evil and shameful practice and New Jersey should profess remorse for its past involvement," he said.
The measure is set for a hearing tomorrow. It hasn't received Senate consideration but would have to be adopted by Tuesday, when the legislative session expires.
It's proposed as a resolution, a form used to express the Legislature's opinion and requiring no gubernatorial action.
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, a Morris Republican, said Democrats should start by asking their own party to apologize, noting the historic Republican opposition to slavery and how New Jersey twice voted against Lincoln.
"But, on a current note, if slavery was the price that a modern American's ancestors had to pay in order to make one an American, one should get down on one's knees every single day and thank the Lord that such price was
paid," Carroll said. He said his ancestors came from Ireland around the 1850s, fleeing the potato famine he said was worsened by British indifference.
"Far from holding it against the modern British, I delight in the cruelty of their forebears. Without same, I might be hanging around in Inisfree," Carroll said, referencing an Irish island.
History "is not something for which anyone can — or should be expected to — atone," said Carroll.
"To the extent that America — or New Jersey — ever owed any kind of debt to anyone, that debt was more than repaid through the blood and suffering of 650,000 federal soldiers who died or were wounded during the war provoked by slavery," Carroll said, referring to the Union Army's losses in the Civil War, which pitted the North against the Confederate South between 1861-1865.
"No one today need feel the slightest guilt, as no one today participated in the wrong."

New Jersey has 8.7 million residents, 14.5 percent of them black.
According to the proposal, New Jersey had one of the largest slave populations in the northern colonies, was the last Northern state to free slaves and was the last Northeast state to abolish slavery, doing so in 1846.
It also allowed authorities to return runaway slaves to their owners and didn't ratify the amendment prohibiting slavery until January 1866, a bit more than a month after its passage, after rejecting it in 1865.
"It's a disgraceful part of our state's history," said Payne. But Merkt said many residents descend from families who came to America after the Civil War and have no link to slave-holding.

"Today's residents of New Jersey, even those who can trace their ancestry back to either slaves or slave-holders, bear no collective guilt or responsibility for unjust events in which they personally played no role," Merkt said.
The proposed resolution expresses "profound regret for the state's role in slavery and apologizes for the wrongs inflicted by slavery and its aftereffects in the United States of America."
It states that in New Jersey, "the vestiges of slavery are ever before African-American citizens, from the overt racism of hate groups to the subtle racism encountered when requesting health care, transacting business, buying a home, seeking quality public education and college admission, and enduring pretextual traffic stops and other indignities."


So I wonder- Do we deserve an apology like other groups? And if we did, what would that do for us? It’s coming from people who weren’t involved although benefited from it. Would it even be sincere at this point, after all no one now has enslaved anyone? Also, do we deserve reparations? Sorry if I offend anyone but if we gave every ancestor of slavery 40 acres and a mule or the financial equivalent what would that do? Half the people wouldn’t even spend it on things to improve themselves and their children and put real wealth into our community. Would a program geared at helping underprivileged black people find financial empowerment be better? And unlike what fellow former law student said in class a few years back- Welfare is NOT a form of reparations- please open a book and read up on it!

Let’s face it, call it how you like, the United States, Paris, England etc. have slavery to thank for being suck super powers. Perhaps if they had not grabbed people from their homelands and enslaved them or “colonized” their countries, they might be facing the same type of turmoil many African countries are now seeing and the plights that many African Americans are now stuck in. It’s not as if Europeans never went to war against their own or enslaved their own (although treated them much better than African slaves), so its not a far reaching assumption.

Finally, should we be on our knees thanking God for slavery? If not, we might be running from the many atrocities imposed on the many African citizens. But then again, what might Africa look like if there was no European influence? Should we just forget this whole horrific incident and leave it in the past? Should the Native Americans, Jews, and Japanese forced to be internment camps (mind you they got an apology and money) also forget? Was the fact that so many soldiers died in the Civil War an equal price (personally, I think hell no, this is far from an eye for an eye situation, killing, in my opinion never makes the world right and Mr. Carrolls statements only show how simple minded he really is)?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Come on, Ride the Train

Okay, so I am a bit of a politics nerd (hey I got my BA in Political Science!). It seems Obama beat his competition for a grand victory with 34% of the vote. Edwards got 30% and Clinton got 29%. This is a bit tighter than the republican vote where Huckabee got maybe 38% with Romney coming in second with 25% of the vote. I’m not republican so I won’t spend too much time talking about them. But I will say that I for some reason thought Gullianni would show better with his riding the coat tales of 9/11 like Bush. Maybe his personal life interfered. Anywho, the fact that people don’t seem to be voting in fear of terrorism is, to me, a good sign. We can finally look to the overall issues. Huckabee keeps putting his religion upfront in center, again like Bush (and we see how Christian like he is) and although this may attract his Christian republicans polls show that he has a lot of work to do with other groups. Being a Christian in and of itself won’t make you a good leader (in fact, a devout Christian is a better follower but that’s a rant for another time). Anywho enough about the Republicans…

So with Obama winning is this a foreshadow that he will win the democratic vote? How representative is the Iowa vote? Will New Hampshire copy this result? Call me optimistic but if Obama wins the primary I feel Obama wins the election totally. With the independent vote leaning to the democrats and young people taking a major liking to Obama (much like we did with Clinton, although damn-it I was too young to vote then and only got to vote when Bush won, boo) I don’t see a republican in office this time around (she says with major joy). So if he were to win, what does that say about our country? Are we that tired of Republicans? Are we starting to look beyond race and ethnicity (you have to add that in because with a name like Barak Obama in this country, you have to be an open minded person)? Also, why is Clinton not doing as well as expected?

I was actually rooting for her and Obama, either one would be a major statement and both have qualities I respect outside of their political games (she’s tough, he’s likeable). Edwards is nice but I’m not confident that he is a strong leader. I think maybe Clinton isn’t as likeable because she appears a little more cold and calculating. But in a sense, isn’t that what we want in a leader? If she were as nice as the guys, we wouldn’t take her as seriously. She’d be Oprah! And Oprah’s great and everything but she isn’t President material, she’s just too kind hearted for that (yeah, I love Oprah!). So Clinton is in a tough spot where sexism rules. Perhaps if she could show her stuff as someone’s vice president she’d be better off. But I don’t see Clinton as anyone’s second!

So next month when we vote at the primaries for who will represent our political party and later on when the selected democrat and republican duke it out for our votes what will be on your voting agenda? The horrifying decline of the US dollar (now even India won’t take our dollars because of its low worth, people in Europe can go on shopping sprees here because our dollar is worth half of the Pound and I believe close to that with the Euro, and some international models don’t even want to be paid in US dollars anymore), the scary housing market, the high cost of oil and gas (although in other countries like England our prices are still cheap to them), the end of this war, better foreign policy so we can repair the damage that Bush made with other countries, universal health care coverage (anyone see Michael Moore’s Sicko, pretty good, I say if taxes are going up might as well go for a good cause)? I don’t know but I do know is that we were riding the gravy train (is that a saying?) with Bill Clinton and someone better get us back there!