Friday, October 30, 2009
Check This Out...
There was a 9 year old boy named Hakim, sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. He has peed his pants!
It's never happened before (at least not in school), and he knows that when his boys find out, he will never hear the end of it. Never! When the honeys find out, they'll never speak to him again as long as he lives!
Hakim believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his head down and does what we all do in such situation... he prays. More importantly he prays this prayer: ''Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now, I'm in the mud!"
'He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered. As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named Shaniqua is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water. Shaniqua trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy's lap. The boy pretends to be angry but, all the while, he is saying to himself... "Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Jesus!''
Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, Hakim is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. (Of course, if there were any children like the child I was, I'm sure somebody is somewhere laughing about this whole thing.)
The sympathy is wonderful but, as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else, Shaniqua. She tries to help but, they tell her to get out. "You've done enough, you klutz! Fall back!"
Finally, at the end of the day, as they are walking home from school, Hakim walks over to Shaniqua and whispers... ''You did that on purpose, didn't you?' Shaniqua whispers back, ''I peed my pants once too.'' He smiles at her and says... "Good lookin' out, buddy."
Of course, that was my spin on an old fable but the point is, that's a true friend... a person that will sacrifice themselves to save you. Do you have a true friend like that? And, more importantly, are you a friend like that yourself? Who has your back and who's back do you have? Whether we like it or not, we are our brothers and our sisters keepers. Just a nice thought for the weekend...
The Maverick of All Bloggers
(and former "disgrace to the negro race")
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
For instance, check out beef number one...
When he heard the criticisms from his former friend Magic Johnson in a soon-to-be-released book, Isaiah Thomas said he'd had enough. And so, he began to fight back. "I'm really hurt and I really feel taken advantage of for all these years,'' said Thomas, the Hall of Fame point guard and former NBA coach and executive, most recently with the Knicks. "I'm totally blindsided by this. Every time that I've seen Magic, he has been friendly with me. Whenever he came to a Knicks game, he was standing in the tunnel (to the locker room) with me. He and Knicks assistant coach, Herb Williams, and I would go out to dinner in New York. I didn't know he felt this way.''
The criticisms are made by Johnson in "When The Game Was Ours", which he co-wrote with Larry Bird and Jackie MacMullan. The book, to be released on November 4th, tells the inside story of the most important rivalry in basketball history. Much of their story involves Thomas, who as captain of the Detroit Pistons, served as a primary threat to the championship ambitions of Bird's Boston Celtics and Magic's L.A. Lakers. The book offers revelations that have stunned Thomas.
Magic addresses years of rumors by finally accusing Thomas of questioning his sexuality after Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991. Magic also admits that he joined with Michael Jordan and other players in blackballing Thomas from the 1992 Olympic Dream Team saying, "Isaiah killed his own chances when it came to the Olympics. Nobody on that team wanted to play with him. Michael didn't want to play with him, Scottie Pippen wanted no part of him, and Bird wasn't pushing for him. Karl Malone didn't want him, who was saying... "We need this guy? Nobody."
"I'm glad that Magic finally had the courage and the nerve to stand up and say it was him, as opposed to letting Michael Jordan take the blame for it all these years'', Thomas responded during one of several interviews he gave to SI.com on Wednesday. "I wish he would have had the courage to say this stuff to me face-to-face, as opposed to writing it in some damn book to sell and he can make money off it."
I'm really surprised at Magic Johnson. In the streets where I come from, we would call what he did a "bitch move". If he felt this way all these years, then why didn't he confront Isaiah about it face-to-face? Why pretend to be the man's friend, while blackballing him from the "Dream Team" and allowing another person (Michael Jordan) to take the blame all of these years for something which (it now turns out) he was innocent of? I'm sorry but, the guys I grew up with just wouldn't have dealt with the situation in that way. Magic, Isaiah, Michael, and Bird are all guys that are my age and I'm bettin' they all know better than that.
Now, check out beef number two...
Outspoken moviemaker, Spike Lee, has picked a new film fight with actor/director Tyler Perry after suggesting that the "Madea Goes To Jail" star's hit films are a step backwards for African-Americans. The "Do The Right Thing" director accuses Perry of "coonery and buffoonery" in his films... comments that the younger film maker, Tyler Perry, has taken exception to.
In a taped interview for U.S. News show 60 minutes, Tyler Perry said "That pisses me off. It really does, because it's so insulting. It's attitudes like that which make Hollywood think that these people (his characters) do not exist and that's why there's no material speaking to them, speaking to us. I would love to read that to my fan base."
In all fairness, a lot of Tyler Perry's characters don't exist. Some of his characters are one dimensional. His villains are "uber" evil and his heroes are "uber saints"... however, he has been getting better with some of his later works. In defense of Tyler Perry, Madea, Mr. Brown, etc. have usually been used as comic relief to take the sting off of a more serious situation that involves his main characters... something that I don't have a problem with. I have my issues with some of Tyler Perry's content but, I never thought of his characters as "coonery and buffoonery." I think that Spike was (kind of) out of line to put him out there like that. He could have made his point without calling the man's name.
I respect the hustle of both of these gentlemen and I know (and they know) what they had to do to get where they are today. Their journeys are much different than say a Steven Spielberg or a Martin Scorsese... and knowing that, Spike could have met with Mr. Perry over lunch and discussed whatever issues he had with his creative works. That's how I would have handled it.
but, I'm no celebrity.
I have witnessed certain bloggers (who I won't name) beefing about certain issues they have had with each other out in the open and it has gotten pretty ugly at times. You notice, I never have had a major beef with another blogger (knock on wood)? For one thing, I'm too busy doing my thing to worry about what somebody else is doing on their blog. Another thing is, if I disagree with something I've read, I respectfully disagree. If it's really a big disagreement, I'll e-mail the blogger... keeping it between us and not giving the public a show. I respect everybody's hustle. No bitch moves here!
These black celebrities, rappers, athletes, singers, actors, politicians, etc. all came up on the streets somewhat and they know the rules. Why wait until now to break them? In the words of Chairman Mao... "Beware the cult of personality." Indeed.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
My place of employment is offering both shots... the regular Flu shot and the Swine Flu shot. I cannot tell anyone else what to do in a situation like this but, I can say that, more than likely, I will take the regular flu shot and not worry about the swine flu shot unless it's absolutely necessary. When, you ask, might I know that it's absolutely necessary? I really and truly don't know... maybe if two or more people around me contract it.
So far, I have only known one individual personally who has come down with the Swine Flu and, thankfully, they were treated and appear to be doing reasonably well. I'm not going to panic and run out to get a vaccination that I might not need. I normally get a flu shot every year anyway, just as a precaution. I'm wary about getting this "new strain" injected into my system and I'm not making this decision out of fear. I'm making an informed decision based on what information I have right now.
However, if you've chosen to get the vaccination for swine flu or more accurately, the H1N1 strain, here is something you should know about an antiviral drug now being approved by the FDA for use:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is allowing the use of an experimental antiviral drug to treat severe cases of H1N1 or Swine Flu. The drug, Peramivir, is currently being developed by BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and is undergoing testing required for regular FDA approval. The FDA issued a so-called emergency use authorization late Friday that allows doctors to use Peramivir, which is delivered intravenously, in certain hospitalized adult and pediatric patients with confirmed or suspected H1N1 Influenza.
A handful of doctors have already treated patients with severe cases of H1N1 using Peramivir, obtained through the agency's expanded access rules that allow individual patients to obtain experimental drugs if certain conditions are met. The emergency-use authorization allows use of the drug without prior FDA approval.
The FDA said there's only limited clinical data about whether Peramivir is safe and effective but, "based upon the totality of scientific evidence available, it is reasonable to believe that Peramivir IV may be effective in certain patients." The company said it is completing production of approximately 130,000 courses of Peramivir and is prepared to make more, if required.
The FDA said Peramivir should only be used in patients who have not responded to or can't take the oral antiviral drug Tamiflu, made by Roche or Relenza, which is an inhaled drug made by GlaxoSmithKline PLC. Like Tamiflu and Relenza, Peramivir works by inhibiting neuraminidase, an enzyme that's involved with the spread of the Influenza virus within the body.
The Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention asked the FDA to grant Peramivir emergency use to help cope with the Influenza pandemic, which has killed more than 1,000 people in the U.S. since April and hospitalized thousands more. The CDC will control and track distribution of Peramivir to hospitals.
As of October 17th, 46 states were reporting "widespread" Influenza activity and many doctors offices have been swamped with swine-flu patients. The CDC said more than 7% of outpatients visits in the week that ended October 17th were attributed to Influenza-like illnesses, a rate higher than during the peak of the last few Influenza seasons. The CDC said "many millions" of Americans have been sickened with H1N1 Influenza since the virus was first discovered in April.
The U.S. government has ordered enough vaccine to make up to 251 million doses if needed but. production has been slower than originally anticipated. According to the CDC, a total of 11.3 million doses of the vaccine had been shipped to U.S. doctors, hospitals, and clinics as of Wednesday out of a total of 14.1 million doses that manufacturers had shipped to warehouses by that time.
By Friday, 16.1 million doses of vaccine had been shipped to warehouses, the CDC said. The total is far below the government's most recent estimate that by the end of this month, about 28 million to 30 million doses would be shipped to warehouses for further distribution. That estimate itself is a revision, made last week from a prior expectation of about 40 million doses by the end of the month. In July, the government had predicted that about 100 million doses would be ready in October.
I just thought you should at least know about this one drug being used to prevent the spread of the virus and there are no doubt a few others on the table. Knowledge is power folks so, don't panic. Get educated and then make an informed decision. Just remember, fear and panic puts money in some people's pockets and does you no good in the end.
(Another public service announcement from the Maverick of All Bloggers!)
Monday, October 26, 2009
The Maverick of All Bloggers... aka "Pop-Pop!"
[click on collage for larger view]
I realize that for the past few days I haven't been writing much of anything of substance... not because there is nothing on my mind but because I've been having an overload of sorts. Sometimes you have to sit back, chill, and enjoy this thing we call life. Sometimes you actually have to have a life!
That's what I love about children... they always make you look at life differently. They make you change your perspective. As depressed and disgusted as I can get sometimes when I think about the way things are going (or in some cases NOT going) in this country, it's always good that I can stop and think about what's really important to me personally.
This weekend, I took care of me. I played with my grandchildren and I didn't watch CNN or MSNBC once. I'm probably behind in a lot of current events but, that's okay. I've read several other very entertaining blog posts by Don, Big Rippa, Carey Carey, Mizrepresent, and others that I'm sure have kept everybody well-informed and entertained.
In fact, what I read was so good that I've got to step up my game a little bit... LOL! The kids helped me chill out and that's a good thing because for me, chilling out means that my brain rested. When my brain rests, my imagination re-energizes itself. Stay tuned... I'll be back on the grind tomorrow or whenever.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I can't believe that it was just a year ago that The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series! I didn't drive to work that day... I knew better. People had been out in the streets partying and coming close to rioting the night before. I took the commuter train into Center City. It was 7:00am in the morning and crowds of people were stumbling past me, smelling like a combination of weed and beer!
Yes, folks were both high and drunk at 7:00am in the morning and not the kind of folks that you usually associate with that type of thing! They were folks from across the bridge... New Jersey folks. They were also suburban folks from the nearby townships... people who only identify with Philadelphia at a time like this, when the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, or Sixers are on the verge of greatness!
It's cool... I live here... I know the move. We were all happy and for one moment, we were all united. I stood in line at Models for 40 minutes so I could get a Jimmy Rollin's jersey at the last minute. I walked into a bar afterwords and "allowed" a very innebriated young man to buy me a beer, we toasted each other, and laughed about how this was a long time coming. It was good times!
Sooooooooo, here we are a year later and a day after the Phillies just won their second National League title in as many seasons and, as of this writing, are awaiting the victor of the Yankees-Angels series. I like the Yankees too, but I will not root for them over my hometown team. We just disposed of the Los Angelas Dodgers the night before. Say goodbye to Hollywood... bring on the Yanks!
I don't have to buy any jerseys this year and it's probably safe to drive where I plan to park, just in case we win another World Series. Just in case! My only dilemma is, where am I going to go to watch the World Series? I have dreams of going to New York next week to watch at least one game... so, stay tuned. If I do, I will most surely blog about the time of my life. Until then, have a great weekend everyone!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I knew not to even go there with my mom or grandmother. They saw me at home and knew all too well what I was capable of doing. However, I did have a teacher who genuinely did not like me and the feeling was mutual. I talked about Mr. O. in a post I wrote last week. Mr. O. was white and possibly a racist... yet, I never felt that he had a personal animosity toward any of us.
The teacher I'm about to talk about now was African-American and definitely had a personal animosity towards me and about two other students in our class. I've mentioned in two posts that she told me I was a "disgrace to the Negro race." She also paid me what I was later to take as a half-ass compliment, depending on how you look at it. She said, "You ain't worth a damn but, there is one thing that I respect about you... you don't try to hide it. What people see with you is what they get. Most of these no-account folks round here are phony and trying to hide who they really are but you, young man... you're true to you." I have always tried to be just that... true to me.
I admit that I have often marched to the beat of my own drum... a rhythem that only I could hear. I've never asked anybody to dance along with me either but, if they chose to... well, welcome to my party. That remark from her was meant to defame me but it actually became the code of which I've tried to live by. Being true to me!
The woman didn't like me, I didn't care for her either, and behind her back, I called her "Old Black Flo... she's so black that she can't hide in the snow" (something sing-songy like that). Whenever I didn't like somebody, I made up a goofy sing-songy phrase about them. In high school, I made up a song about the vice principal..."Whitman's got a head like a loaf of bread"... that one of my friends still chuckles about.
One day, my grandfather was walking me home from school and I saw this particular teacher driving her car down the street. I gleefully said to my grandfather... "There goes Old Black Flo Pop-Pop." He looked at me and said, "Why did you call that woman that?" I replied... "Because she's mean and she's black enough to poot smoke." Again, I thought I had said something funny. He didn't laugh. He was very patient with me and soft spoken, a trait I hope I have inherited and will use with my own grandchildren.
He said to me... "And, what are you?" I said... "I'm brown-skinned." He said, "To some people, you and her are just the same. If the Ku Klux Klan ran across both of you, they'd string you up right beside her. What? Do you think they'd hang her and let you go?" he asked. I stood quiet and felt shamed because the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint this man.
He continued... "It's not nice to call people names or to say things that are intentionally hurtful. Our people have enough challenges baby boy and sometimes we make it hard on ourselves by the way we talk to each other. We are always calling each other names and judging people by our skin tones. Sometimes, we're just as bad as the white folks that don't like us."
He meant the ones that we saw on television that were turning hoses on the civil rights protesters, lynching people, and burning or blowing up churches. Not every single one. He tempered his speech to me by saying that all of us... "Colored, white, or whatever need to learn how to talk to each other better and we might get along a little better in this world."
A simple lesson from a wise man and his point was well-taken. From that day on, I never made another remark about a person's skin tone and ironically enough, I grew up being attracted to dark-skinned women. My wife and practically every girlfriend I've ever had have all been a darker shade than me.
It didn't change how I felt about this particular teacher. I still didn't like her but, I just didn't call her "Old Black Flo" anymore.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
When I was 10 years old, my grandmother's church went on a bus excursion to New York City to see a play called "The Great White Hope" It was loosely based on the life of the first black Heavyweight Champion of the World, Jack Johnson. I knew nothing of Jack Johnson then and I didn't care about seeing the play but, it was a chance to get out of Philly and plus, it was going to make my grandmother (who I loved dearly) happy so, I went.
I watched the play but all I could think about initially was, this was a bald-headed black man running around with a lot of white women and getting himself into needless trouble with the white folk. I wondered in my 10 year old way, why he didn't mess with the sisters. The white folks still weren't going to like him any better but, at least they would have left him alone about that! Even as a precocious 10 year old, I could understand certain things that adults didn't seem to grasp!
A few years later, when I was about 15 years old, my cousin Linwood (who is eight years my senior) was listening to a jazz album by Miles Davis called "Jack Johnson". I suddenly remembered the play which featured James Earl Jones that I had seen with my Nana just five years earlier. I read the liner notes which talked about the man's life in a little more detail. Later, I went to the library and found two books on the man's life surprisingly enough. (This was long before the days of Wikipedia!)
Jack Johnson and I shared not only the same racial make up but the same sun sign, Aries, and his March 30th birthday was just six days after mine. The more I read about the man, the more I found that I liked him. His attitude and his habit of purposely thumbing his nose at and infuriating the racist American society of the early 20th century.
He dressed to the nines, drove fast cars, and ran with and married three white women. In the ring, he was fast and skillful and there were few who could keep up with him and none that could beat him in his prime. It wouldn't be until nearly a half-century later when Muhammad Ali arrived on the scene that a Black man would be this autonomous in American public life.
He was locked up for violating the Mann Act, which is taking a woman across state lines for immoral purposes (prostitution). What he really was locked up for was taking a white woman across state lines. Rather than serve his time, he fled America and fought in Europe. Later on, he accepted a deal and retured to the United States. It is rumored that he threw his last fight and took a dive to Jess Willard, a cowboy who didn't start boxing until he was thirty, so that he wouldn't have to serve his entire jail sentence.
In the end, Jack lost his heavyweight crown and it would be 20 years before another black man, Joe Louis, would get a shot at being the heavyweight champ. Jack Johnson had been a "disgrace to the negro race", a feat that I would duplicate myself 20 years after his death when an elementary school teacher told me that I was the same thing... a disgrace to the negro race. I didn't know whether to feel honored or not! Gee, it's not everyday that one can hope to rise to such a level in negro history so,at least I was in with good company! Me and Jack Johnson.
Of course, I'm kidding. Jack Johnson continued to box for a little while and finally retired from the ring in 1938. He raced automobiles for awhile and then, he appeared at state fairs boxing kangaroos and racing horses (and cars) on foot and other demeaning things to make money. He died in a car accident in 1946 . 63 years ago.
What I want to know is why Senator John McCain (that champion of civil rights) is "pressuring" President Obama to pardon Jack Johnson's 1912 Mann Violation conviction! Why now? The President is in the middle of trying to get health care reform in action, trying to make a decision about Afghanistan, and other important things and Senator McCain wants him to give a pardon to a man who has been dead for 63 years! I don't get it. What are these Republicans up to now?
My mother always said,"Give me my roses while I can still smell 'em." What good would a presidential pardon do Jack Johnson now? He's dead... been dead... and I don't know if he even has any living descendents who could accept the pardon for him. And, what could they do with it, if they do exist? That pardon and a token will get you a ride downtown and that's about it.
What is McCain's game? He has said that both houses of congress have approved of giving the late boxer a pardon. Well, I'm certainly glad that they can get together and agree on something! They can't pass a bill to make sure that you and I, who are very much alive and breathing, can have the same decent health care that they have but they can campaign to give a dead man a pardon that he can't use. It should have been given to him in 1912 because he could have used it then. Give me a public option now... bring home our soldiers, sailors, and airmen now. They could use it.
Priorities Gentlemen... priorities!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I find that these two blogs of mine have helped me find my peace. I've had a three-ring circus operating in my head for years and now I've found a medium in which to bring my circus to the forefront. As it turns out, there is so much of a circus in my head that one blog wasn't enough to hold all of my thoughts in so, I needed two. (There is even plans for a third blog next year but, don't hold me to that.)
Most of my blogging pals have discovered Facebook and Twitter and are spending much more time on them. When I check the other blogs that I follow, I find that only a few of us are blogging on a consistant basis. A lot of my fellow bloggers are posting once a week, sometimes once every-other-week, and some haven't posted in months. It's much easier to do a Facebook update or a Tweet. You don't have to put much thought into it.
I love Facebook but, sometimes I have things to say that won't fit in a Facebook status update. So, for those deeper thoughts, there is Blogger. Everybody that blogs ain't a writer. Facebook and Twitter are great for those who aren't that passionate... they just say a little somethin' somethin' and get on with it. Me? I'm afraid I'm always going to have a lot to say about some things and a need for clarity.
This blogging thing is clarity for me... the beginning of clarity for me... crystalizing how I feel about what is happening around me and how it's affecting me. That's why I'm going to be like Diddy... Can't stop, won't stop! I got so much poetry and so many stories that I want to tell too. I can't tell 'em on Facebook. I got to tell my stories, write my poems, and express my opinions in this format. I gotta have Blogger!
My cousin and a few others are after me to write a book. I don't know that I have a book in me but, next year I'm going to give it a try (that's the third blog I may or may not be creating). See, I'm a very conflicted guy... always have been and always will be.
Monday, October 19, 2009
A white Louisiana Justice of the Peace recently refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. I heard this and I said to myself, "Are you kidding me?" What business is it of the Justice of the Peace what happens to the (unborn) children of this couple? Since when did Americans become Gladys Kravitz (the newsy neighbor on Bewitched, who was always looking in Darren and Samantha's window?)
Keith Bardwell, Justice of the Peace in Tangipahoa Parish, (He would have to have my first name, wouldn't he?) says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long. (Oh really, he's an expert at this?)Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday, "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way. (Yeah, right!) I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom,(Well gee, isn't that special. They can sit on his toilet!) and I treat them just like everyone else."
Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them. Further, he said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept the offspring of such relationships and neither does white society.
Bardwell said, "There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it." If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said. "I try to treat everyone equally." he said. (Dude, thou dost protest a bit much!)
Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples during his career, all in the past two-and-a-half years. Beth Humphrey, 30 years old, and Terence McKay, 32 years old, both of Hammond, say they will consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint against the Justice of the Peace.
Humphrey, an account manager for a marketing firm, said she and McKay, a welder, just returned to Louisiana. She is white and he is black. She plans to enroll in the University of New Orleans to pursue a masters degree in minority politics. She said, "That was one thing that made this so unbelievable. It's not something you would expect in this day and age." This is right, you would not expect this kind of crap in this day and age. This is supposed to be post-racial America.
Humphrey said she called Bardwell on October 6th to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell's wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples. Bardwell suggested the couple go to another Justice of the Peace in the parish, who agreed to marry them.
Humphrey said, "We are looking forward to having children and all our friends and co-workers have been very supportive. Except for this, we're typical happy newlyweds." It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009," said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann. She said the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 "that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry."
The ACLU sent a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee, which oversees the state Justices of the Peace, asking them to investigate Bardwell and recommending "the most severe sanctions available because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice."
"He knew he was breaking the law but, continued to do it," Schwartzmann said. According to the Clerk of Court's office, application for a marriage license must be made three days before the ceremony because there is a 72-hour waiting period. The applicants are asked if they have previously been married. If so, they must show how the marriage ended, such as divorce.
Other than that, all they need is a birth certificate and Social Security card (and to be of the same race, apparently). The license fee is $ 35 and the license must be signed by a Louisiana minister, Justice of the Peace, or a judge. The original is returned to the clerk's office. Bardwell said, "I've been a Justice of the Peace for 34 years and I don't think I've mistreated anybody. I've made some mistakes but, you have too. I didn't tell this couple they couldn't get married. I just told them that I wouldn't do it."
Incredible! Just incredible! So, do I still think we are seeing the dawning of the post-racial America age? Yes. Do I think we are there yet? Not yet... Lord have mercy, not yet!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Both of these young men had their pants sagging to the point that I could see their boxer shorts. They both looked like they were carrying a load in their pants. The 17 year old saw a young lady who caught his fancy and began talking to her in length. I couldn't hear what they were saying but, I could imagine that it was the whole "Do you come here often?", "Can I have your phone number?" thing. The young lady complied and both pulled out their Blackberry's and began exchanging numbers. (I remember when that sort of thing was done on a napkin). The 17 year old then told the young lady that he would call her and see if they could hook up and go out sometime. Just as he turned to walk away, his pants dropped to the ground!!!
I have always wondered if this ever happened. I have seen guys with their pants saggin' trying to walk and to hurry up and constantly pulling their pants up but, I have never seen them fall like his did. Of course, you know that the diner erupted in laughter... old men and young men alike. Not only that, the girl who he had been talking to, her girlfriend, and the two waitresses were screaming with laughter. I know that this poor kid felt like going through the floor.
He turned around slowly and looked right in my face. I pulled my shirt up and pointed to my belt. I didn't say a word but my intent was that, if he had at least worn a belt with his pants, this type of thing wouldn't have happened. I don't know if he got message or not. He pulled his pants up and hightailed it out of that diner with whatever dignity he had left. Even his boy, who had come into the diner with him was howling with laughter!
I doubt if that girl will be getting a call from him anytime soon!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I'm going to keep this short... the HMOs and the insurance companies are spending millions of dollars in false advertising on radio, television, and the internet to scare people and misinform them about health care. They are doing this because they are scared... scared that the good thing they've had going for years is going to come to an end. They are going to make sure that doesn't happen.
I will go even further and say that they are not beyond hiring agitators to stir-up people at the town hall meetings too. The lobbys that represent them have more than a few politicians in their pockets to make sure that business as usual continues.
Don't beleive the hype. At least, don't believe "their' hype. Read something, look deeper into the situation, and develop an informed opinion. Too much is at stake not to.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
President Barack Obama said that passage of legislation by a key Senate Committee is "a critical milestone" toward getting a health care overhaul this year but "now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back" and he's right. This bill is kind of a compromise (middle-of-the-road) and does not have the public option that so many of his supporters on the left were really hoping for. That's cool though... this is the way Washington works and he is going to learn that, just as the idealistic Bill Clinton learned.
The right-wing said that if he didn't get this health care initiative passed, it would mean the end of his presidency... in that he would no longer be seen as an effective leader. Well, I guess they can put away the shovels, caskets, and hang-up their black suits. President Obama maybe on his way to doing what six presidents before him tried and failed to do... overhaul the health care system, as we have known it.
President Obama praised Sen. Olympia Snowe for her political courage in voting to approve the bill. The Maine lawmaker said she was laying aside misgivings for now and voting to advance the bill, a sweeping $829 billon, 10-year health care remake that would help most Americans get coverage without creating a new government insurance plan. "When history calls, history calls" said Snowe.
Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana), called his bill "a common sense, balanced solution." A distance runner, Baucus has endured months of marathon meetings to get this far and it's not the finish line. Health care legislation is expected to be on the senate floor the week after next, said a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. But, it won't be the Baucus bill. Reid will combine the finance version with a more liberal proposal from the Health Committee with unpredictable results. Baucus said in an interview with The Associated Press after the vote that he hopes his bill survives the merger process without major changes.
Baucus said, "The bottom line here is we need a final bill, a merged bill that gets 60 votes" Baucus said. Our goal is to pass health care reform, not just talk about it." The vote in the Finance Committee was 14-9, with Snowe joining all 13 Democrats in support. In a sign of the long political battles ahead, every other Republican voted against it. (Was anybody surprised by this?)
The ultimate fate of the legislation hinges on how lawmakers decide dozens of unresolved issues, from letting government sell insurance to abortion coverage. Even some senators who voted for the Baucus bill said they have concerns it will deliver on providing access to affordable coverage for all. As Snowe made clear, "My vote today is my vote today. It doesn't forecast what my vote will be tomorrow."
For the first time, the Baucus plan would require most Americans to purchase insurance and it also aims to hold down spiraling medical costs over the long-term. Questions persist about whether it would truly provide access to affordable coverage, particularly for self-employed people with solid middle class incomes. I'm not so sure that urging people to purchase insurance is really the solution here. This still puts more money into the pockets of the insurance companies and doesn't help the poor guy who couldn't afford insurance to begin with because it was so high. Still, I'll hold that thought and my peace until this is further elaborated.
The Finance Committee's top Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, gave voice to the GOP's concerns about the bill, saying it was "...moving on a slippery slope to more and more government control of health care. There's a lot in this bill that's just a consensus which needs to be done but, there are other provisions of this bill that raise a lot of questions. Contending the legislation would mean higher costs for Americans."
The committee approval marked a personal victory for Baucus. Four other congressional committees finished their work before August and for months, all eyes had been on the finance panel, whose moderate make up most closely resembles the Senate as a whole.
One of the biggest unanswered questions is whether the legislation would slow punishing increases in the nation's health care costs, particularly for the majority who now have coverage through employers. The insurance industry insists it would shift new costs onto those who have coverage. This is the problem I have with what I see now... this just looks like these guys are making an end run around real reform and finding a slick way to continue business as usual. This is why I don't feel particularly good about the bill as it stands right now.
Baucus' bill includes consumer protections such as limits on co-pays and deductibles and relies on federal subsidies to help lower-income families purchase coverage. Insurance companies would have to take all comers and people could shop for insurance within new state market places called "exchanges".
Medicaid would be expanded and, although employers wouldn't be required to cover their workers, they'd have to pay a penalty for each employee who sought insurance with government subsidies. The bill is paid for by cuts to Medicare providers and new taxes on insurance companies and others.
Unlike the other health care bills in Congress, Baucus' would not allow the government to sell insurance in competition with private companies, a divisive element sought by liberals. Last minute changes made subsidies more generous and softened the penalties for those who don't comply with a proposed new mandate for everyone to buy insurance. The latter change drew the ire of the health insurance industry, which said that without a strong and enforceable requirement, not enough people would get insured and premiums would jump for everyone else. This is one step forward and two steps backwards, if you ask me.
Confusing? Yes, it's confusing. I, like you, don't know what all of this means and I'm pretty sure before it's all over, this bill will look nothing like anything I've written about here. You know what? The shame of this is, all of the senators and representatives arguing over this are insured. I'm betting that they all have pretty good insurance too and, if anybody in their family gets sick, they can take care of it with their own money alone.
They don't know and they have no concept of what it feels like to be somebody who has to put their house up for a second mortgage to pay the hospital bills for a sick loved one or for themselves. They don't feel the pain I felt last year, when I considered putting my mother, who was in the terminal stage of colon cancer, on my insurance plan so that she could undergo a radical new kind of cancer treatment being developed at my place of employment that might have saved her life. They don't know what it's like to not be insured at all and to live in fear of getting sick because they have absolutely no way to pay for medical attention. They don't know and that's why they can come up with the solution of just buying more insurance. That's why the people that run the insurance companies can talk about hitting people already covered and already paying ridiculous premiums as it is with more costs.
See, if they knew and even more importantly, if they cared, then there wouldn't be a need for any of the discussions I've written about in the paragraphs above. A public option and the notion of universal health care wouldn't sound so frightening and spoken as though it's anti-American. It would be the only discussion we'd be having and it would be the right thing!
Still, I applaud the present administration for getting the ball rolling and to getting people to talking about true health care reform because for so long, nothing has been done... nothing at all. As my mother would always say, something always beats nothing.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Yesterday was Columbus Day and a lot of people had this day off but, I was not one of them. I haven't thought about this teacher in years and, for some reason, yesterday made me think of him. I've had many good teachers in my life... teachers who inspired me to go forward and do big things. I've had memorable teachers in the Philadelphia public school system, suburban school system, and in college. I've had great and inspiring teachers. This teacher, however, was not one of them.
First off, I'm going to refer to him as Mr. O. He might be still alive and I don't want to get sued or have a contract taken out on me. To understand this story, you have to first understand something about me. I read history books for fun. History and english were probably my best subjects throughout school. I've always liked a good story and I've always liked to know who did something first, when they did it, etc. Yes, I was a bit of a nerd back then.
Mr. O. was short, muscular, and (I swear) bore a striking resemblance to Lee Harvey Oswald... the man accused (and believed by most) to have assassinated President John F. Kennedy. He wore his hair the exact same way, had the same smirk, and everything. I wasn't the only one in my class who thought so either. President Kennedy was killed about five or six years before the story I'm about to tell takes place. So, all of us kids had seen photos of Lee Harvey Oswald in the paper and all of us swore that the recently deceased Oswald had come back from the dead and come to our elementary school to torment us.
Mr. O was our swimming instructor. He was a frightening man that yelled and screamed to the top of his lungs if we did something wrong. I don't know if I was more scared of drowning or getting on his bad side in swim class. I dreaded Monday mornings, when we had to pack our swim gear and head to the YMCA on 52nd street for an hour-and-a-half of swimming instruction with him. Back then, you had to pass swimming in order to get out of elementary school and into junior high or middle school, as they call it now.
I was way too young to know or care about conservatives or liberals or right-wing agendas back then. Now that I remember though, Mr. O. used to say things to us and give us lectures that might have gotten him thrown out of school if he said them now. Not only him, but a lot of the teachers said some pretty wild stuff considering. I had one teacher (who was black) tell me that I was a "disgrace to the negro race." She had the unenviable misfortune of meeting my grandmother, who said a few things to her that I can't print but may have made her reconsider such a charge.
Mr. O., for instance, told us that because we "were negroes" we weren't as "buoyant" in the water as "other races"..."But (he added), that doesn't mean you can't be good swimmers. If you work hard, you can still be competent enough in the water to at least save your life or the life of your buddy." (I wonder if he watched the Olympics last year?) Nobody in that class disputed him then... we all took it for the gospel because he said it was so. He then would say... "But, you see, that's the problem. You got some people who don't want to work hard and they want everything given to them... all these demonstrators and civil rights marchers who are tearing our great country apart!" And, he'd go on and on and on... working himself into a frenzy. We were kids, we just tuned it out. I wonder what my uncles or my older cousins would have thought if he had said that kind of stuff around them?
He yelled at this girl one time, who was trying to explain why she couldn't float properly... "See, that's what wrong with this country... all you people THAT WANT TO TELL SOMEBODY IN AUTHORITY WHAT TO DO. JUST DO WHAT YOU'RE TOLD!!! DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLDDDD!!!" I've been in the U.S. Military and my drill instructors didn't instill this much fear.
It never occurred to me then that this man really had a problem and shouldn't be teaching period. I just thought he was a typical uptight adult. He also taught "Social Studies" and this is where he and I had a problem. Remember, I read history books for fun. He starts telling us about how Christopher Columbus "discovered America" and I'll never forget it. This girl in my class named Mary Ann spoke up first... she asked him how Columbus could "discover" a place when there were already people here when he got here? (people he decided to name "Indians").
Mr. O. got as red as a beat and said... "ARE YOU THE GODDAMNED TEACHER OR AM I???I'M TEACHING THIS CLASS. HE WAS THE FIRST WHITE MAN TO COME TO AMERICA OKAY!!!" (I guess that was all that mattered. Those Indians didn't count for human.) Here was a moment where I could have kept my mouth shut and I wouldn't have had a story to tell but, noooooooooooo. I had to raise my hand and tell him I had read that the Vikings, who were certainly white, had been here before Columbus was born and the "Indians" were really from out of Asia and had been here even before them.
The man was about to have a stroke. He gave me and Mary Ann a detention and said that he wouldn't be surprised if he didn't read about both of us being on the FBI's most wanted list one day, just like those "damn Black Panthers" who were threatening to overthrow our government and all those hippies and people protesting our government's valiant efforts to stop communism in Vietnam.
I didn't know Huey Newton from a Fig Newton at the time and all I knew about Vietnam was that Mrs. Harper's son was fighting over there. We were much too young but, I remember this man saying all this stuff and yelling to the top of his lungs. He was so red, I thought he was going to catch fire. The principal of the school, a black man with a slick process like David Ruffin of the Temptations, came to the door of the classroom.
"Mr. O" he said. Mr. O. turned around and nearly screamed, "WHAT!" The old black principal with the doo-wop look gave him one of them... "Oh, no you didn't" kind of looks but said calmly... "Can I see you in my office please?" Mr. O. slammed his book down and walked out behind old Principal Doo-Wop. He came back in the room a few minutes later and said quietly... "Boys and girls, I will no longer be teaching here. You will have a substitute tomorrow." And, that was it... that was the last time any of us ever saw him and he was on my list of people who would not be missed.
Neither Mary Ann nor I had to take that detention that day. We also got a new swimming teacher... a woman who was a major improvement over his yelling and screaming. It would be a few years before I realized the seriousness of just what Mr. O was saying and how warped and possibly racist and dangerous that man actually was. It didn't occur to me then but, this guy would have been the subject of several lawsuits had he been spewing the kind of junk now that he was spewing in 1969 and 1970. What was amazing is that no one ever told their parents about him... that's how much we feared the man. Hell, they were going to work, we had to sit in that class with him.
I have often wondered over the years what became of Mr. O. Did he become an alcoholic? Did he join the United Aryan Nations or both? Who knows but, one thing is for sure... I hope he never ever got another teaching job.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
In a very loud voice, The first guy said,"I think I'm going to move to Utah. There are only 100 nuns living there." The second guy spoke up and said, "I want to go to Montana. There are only 50 nuns living there." Then, third guy said, "I want to go to Idaho. There are only 25 nuns living there."
The Mother Superior turned around, looked at the men, and in a very sweet and calm voice said, "Why don't you fellas all go to hell... there aren't any nuns there."
Have a great weekend everybody!
Friday, October 9, 2009
Let me tell you a story...
When this guy was in high school, he helped burn down a federal building. He shot and killed a cow for fun. He stole. He violated his probation and one night after a bar fight. He struck a policeman and this got him a stay in the slams. And that, however, was not the end of his story.
In this guy's own words, he was a “monster”... What the old folks I knew would have called a "hellion". If he had received the fullest possible sentence for his crimes, he would have spent 20 years or more in jail. If he’d been sentenced to life in prison without parole, as some 13 and 14 year-old Americans are, he would never have gone on to college or law school. He would never have served 18 years in the U.S. Senate.
Do you wanna take a guess as to who I'm talking about? (No, it's not me!) The man in question is not some African American homeboy. His name is Alan K. Simpson... a white, Wyoming Republican. When he left the Senate in 1997, few would have recognized him as the high school horror who had so often been in trouble with the law. He credits that night spent in jail after “belting a cop” and the girlfriend who became his wife of 55 years who refused to bail him out, as the turning point that changed his life.
Okay, let me tell you about the second guy...
This man, a big hulk of a man, killed another man in a bar room brawl one night in Baltimore, not far from the very area where the popular television show "The Wire" was filmed. If he had been given a life sentence, you would have never seen his popular sitcom or the many appearances he has made in scores of motion pictures. This guy is black and he is Charles "Roc" Dutton, who began reading and studying while in prison, turned his life around, and became an award-winning actor and producer. The reason why I mention these two is because Dutton and Simpson, two strange bedfellows if ever there were, are coming together to work on keeping juveniles from being sentenced to life in prison.
Now, let me explain before everyone has a fit over what they are proposing...
Alan Simpson knows and has said that teenagers, even the toughest ones, can turn their lives around. He’s joined in an amicus brief with other accomplished men... emmy-winning actor Charles “Roc” Dutton and author R. Dwayne Betts, both of whom were convicted of crimes as juveniles and then turned their lives around. They’re asking the Supreme Court to strike down the practice of sentencing teenagers to life in prison without parole for non-homicide offenses.
This is one of the most important cases to come before the Supreme Court, which began its new term Monday. The two consolidated Florida cases that bring this issue before the court expose the practice in the Sunshine State of deciding that the lives of teenagers are over before they’ve really begun.
In the case of Graham vs. Florida, Terrance Graham was sentenced to life without parole for armed robbery... an offense he committed when he was 16 years old. Joe Sullivan was convicted of committing sexual battery when he was only 13 years old. Just five years ago, the Supreme Court decided in Roper vs. Simmons that the imposition of the death penalty on juveniles violates the 8th Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The Graham and Sullivan cases ultimately ask the court to determine whether imposing a form of death on teenagers for non-homicide offenses is similarly unconstitutional. There are currently nine individuals serving life-without-parole terms for offenses they committed when they were 13 or 14 years old. Eight of the nine people are African Americans. This brings up the argument of disproportionate sentencing based on race (another blog post for another time).
When the Supreme Court decides later this year whether a state can constitutionally deny teenagers the kind of second chance that enabled Alan K. Simpson, R. Dwayne Betts, and Charles "Roc" Dutton to turn their lives around, it will not only decide the fate of the nine “lifers.” The court’s decision will also define its character and that of our country for years to come.
I believe in the power of redemption. As I stated in my last post, I don't think our youth are doomed or throwaways to be given up on and discarded. I am a believer in the second chance and third chance. Lord knows, I myself have benefited more than a few times from having another chance... and so can a lot of these 13, 14, 15, and 16 year old kids.
It's at least something we should think on. Have our hearts grown that cold? Have they been hardened that much?
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Then, I was having a discussion with someone the other night about a solution for a lot of the fatherless boys and I came up with something that seemed like a way. I think that single mothers should try to hook-up with responsible men that their sons can see and responsible men who will take some time out to play a part in or guide their young sons. There are some things that a woman just can't teach a boy about manhood. So, single mothers should do what they can to see that their sons have some positive man in his life. I think here would be a good start.
A lot of women and single mothers might get offended by that but, let's look at it from this standpoint... I couldn't teach a girl everything she needs to know about how to be a woman. There are some things that she would just have to learn from her mother or from some other woman. What I'm saying is not sexist but, just good common sense.
There are some women who have told me (and I know this to be true) that, when they have hooked-up with a guy who tried to help them with their sons, the biological father (aka the sperm donor) has suddenly showed up and declared, "This is mah son and ah don't want no other man around him. I'll see you next week." or something to that effect. My word for them is, if you're not doing anything for your son and the woman has to practically blackmail you to see him (as well as pay your child support) then, just step off and let somebody that's willing to do for him, do for him. That's the least you can do.
My plan doesn't cost the tax payers any money. These are not throw away boys and they can be saved if somebody just takes the time to spend some time with them and show them the right way. It's a cheap and workable plan. It's a beginning. If the guy is going to be around the mother for more than a night, that son (or that daughter) is going to be there too. He might as well make himself useful by being a part of their lives or else, he's just a sperm donor.
As I said, it's not much but, it's a simple plan. It's more than I hear on these television shows.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Well first off, I'd better say that there is really nothing that you can do to ensure that you absolutely do not get breast cancer, although studies have reported there are some lifestyle choices that may help reduce your breast cancer risk. Right now, some of the most important appear to be: eating a healthy diet that is low in fat and high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables (there is no data indicating that a specific diet, per se, can help reduce breast cancer risk); losing weight (if you are overweight); not gaining weight after menopause; getting regular exercise; and using hormone therapy to treat menopausal symptoms for the shortest time period necessary.
The American Cancer Society suggests you exercise for 45-60 minutes, 5 or more days a week. This is something that I could stand to do more of myself. Reducing stress is something else you could do. The evidence on stress being related to breast cancer is all over the map and it's quite conflicting and far from consistent. There is no evidence, however, that one of these external factors that increase breast cancer risk is how women express — or don't express — their emotions or how they handle stress. Yet, stress reduction makes everybody feel a lot better. Take it from me... I should know. I'm uptight 24/7.
Jamie Foxx sings "Blame It On The "Al -Al-a-Alcho-Alcohol..." Studies have found that having one or two drinks per day increases a woman's risk of developing a breast cancer tumor that is hormone-sensitive (ER+/PR+). Overall, about 70 percent of all women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have this type of tumor. Compared to non-drinkers, women who consumed less than one drink daily had a 7% higher risk of developing breast cancer. Those who had one or two drinks a day had a 32% increased risk, while those who had three or more daily drinks had a 51% increased risk. The increased risk was found no matter what type of alcohol (wine, beer, etc.) a woman drank. So, does it really matter? Who can say? This is not an exact science but, why tempt fate right? Error on the side of caution.
I do want to stress again that a healthier diet is more than likely essential. Some of the first studies to explore the relationship between breast cancer and foods found that women who ate lots of fruits and vegetables had a decreased risk of breast cancer. But, now it appears that it's more than likely the vegetables that matter the most and not the fruit; and, if they do matter, it's nowhere near the extent we once thought that they might. And while there have been some studies that found that eating a lot of vegetables might reduce the risk of a breast cancer recurrence, how much you should eat and what the risk reduction would be is far from clear. Like I said before... it's not an exact science.
During this month though, ladies, go get those mamograms, get screened and take care of yourself while you can, if you are blessed enough to have health insurance.
A public service announcement from The Maverick of All Bloggers!
Monday, October 5, 2009
I've never been blackmailed before. I'm not a celebrity and I don't do much (anymore) that would be embarrassing or cost me anything. So, I don't know how it feels to be in the public eye and have lots of money tied up in endorsements from corporate sponsors, etc.
However, if I were being blackmailed, I would hope that I could play it the way my man David Letterman did it recently. Apparently, David Letterman was involved with a young woman who worked for him, much to the consternation of her ex-boyfriend, who happens to be one of the producers of David Letterman's late night television show.
In a move that has to be the ultimate in hateration, the producer attempted to blackmail David Letterman for millions of dollars by revealing that Mr. Letterman has had sexual relations with his ex-girlfriend and with a few other NBC staffers in the past. He figured that Letterman would cave in and give him the money, rather than have this kind of information get out. It could be very embarrassing to the late night host.
Some celebrities would have lied and said that the allegations weren't true if they had gotten out and this is where they get in trouble. If a blackmailer has something on you that is true and you lie, there is always a way to get it out and/or get somebody else involved. Now, you're exposed as a liar and your dirty little secret is out. You're screwed twice... literally!
David Letterman came out, ran his show the way he usually does, and then, in the course of the night, calmly brought up the allegations and admitted that they were true without going into any sordid details. He killed his would be blackmailer. Sure, people are going to laugh and make jokes about it but, there won't be any story. He just told everyone that it was true. Now, his blackmailer could lose his job and face criminal charges.
I read that story in the paper and I pumped my fists in the air... Way to go Dave! David Letterman was single at the time and he was dating several women. So what? Where is the scandal? Perhaps, he shouldn't have been dating women who work for him but, it doesn't seem as though any of the women have been complaining.
If someone tried to blackmail me, I'd hope I could handle it just like Dave and give a black eye figuratively folks) to my haters!
Friday, October 2, 2009
1. People are only as important to you as you make them.
2. Only you can decide when the healing begins after a relationship has gone sour.
3. Never make someone else a priority who has chosen to make you an option.
4. Keep your cool and get the job done! If you panic or fly off the handle during adversity, you've just wasted time and energy that you will most certainly need.
5. Keep your wits about you when everybody else is losing theirs and you'll look like the coolest, most intelligent, and attractive cat in the room! (Even if you really aren't!)
6. Keep looking outside of yourself or through someone else to substantiate your happiness and chances are, you'll always be looking. Happiness is within.
7. As you get older your body is constantly demanding certain adjustments in your lifestyle. Ignore your body's demands and it really won't matter much to you anymore if you get
8. A man that is constantly buying flowers for his woman is a man that is probably guilty of much.
9. Michael Jackson is dead yet, Keith Richards (of the Rolling Stones) is still alive... proof positive that life is sometimes confusing and death even more so.
1o. If you really want to know a person's character, lend him/her some money.
11. If you're not early then, you're late... there is no in between. (At least, this was my father's rule.)
12. I couldn't be a politician or a celebrity. I'm not the type to apologize for something I said... especially, if I really did mean it at the time I said it.