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Friday, December 19, 2014

Where's a Good Hacker When You Need One?

A writer writes!

So allegedly North Korea is backing "Hackers" who have obtained information from the Sony Corporation.  That information plus threats to do follow up  harm have resulted in cancelling of the release of the Sony sponsored movie "The Interview" which was destined to be one of the top 10 artistic movies of all time right?  No, I don't think it was going to make that category.  So, I ask the question to the "Hackers", where have you been?

As a movie fan, every month I witness the endless release of exceptionally terrible movies.  Horror films galore designed to see who can make the bloodiest and most shocking scenes that will scare people for all of 3-4 seconds.  Movies that appear to have been conceived and written after an all night drinking binge by some deranged screenplay writer who also has the funds to produce their own film. Why can't you hackers threaten those people and save us the agony of having to watch the horror film previews and also save people the $8 - $12 people pay to see these alleged movies? Hackers, please obtain any listing of movies produced and check off the ones unworthy of the money spent to make them.  You would be doing the world a service.  I foresee T shirts being printed, a fan club established, and maybe even a national holiday established in your honor.  "Guardians of Peace" could then become a revered group. A reality show will likely follow showing the exploits of "G.O.P." as they seek out evil companies who offend people with their terrible movies.

What was Sony thinking?  Make a movie about assassinating a living person?  Remember when some company made a board game about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy?  Now that was distasteful wasn't it?  So, why be surprised when there is backlash about a movie featuring a plot to kill the leader of a foreign country?  Duh!

Well now the Guardians have set a precedent of shutting down a release of a movie.  Now we will have thousands of hackers from age 8 to age 79 attempting to do the same thing.  It will become a contest.  Who can beat what the Guardians of Peace did?   But, the U.S. Government is coming to the rescue.  Yeah, the same government that has to shut down agencies because Congress and the President don't get along and compromise on various issues.  It's going to be something like a video game.  The Hackers make a move, then the United States makes a counter cyber attack.  Maybe the United States government will do something that will impact access to Korean television?  Then the Hackers come back and hopefully will block American's access to those terrible offensive American shows on cable and public TV.  Hackers, don't forget the access to streaming!  Hey, we could use many evenings of no TV so we're forced to talk to each other or even read a book.

So what if  movies now have to first be cleared through a hackers group before they are released?  It wouldn't bother me since only about 2-3 films a year feature African American actors in sensible or relevant roles.  I won't miss much.   Especially those stupid horror films.  Give me a break.  How many ways can you devise to depict human mutilation?  Well, before the Hackers come back and end my use of the internet I'd better finish up this last blog item!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Policing Ourselves

A writer writes!

Some of the dialogue revolving around the grand jury verdict on Michael Brown's shooting mentioned that the African American community wanted police in our neighborhoods.  Well, we do want police to respond to calls for help.  What we don't want is a disrespectful occupying army in our neighborhoods.  We want respectful police who don't assume the worst about us when encountering us in person.  Don't come into our neighborhoods thinking that firing your weapon is the only answer to community problems.

What African American neighborhoods also need is a higher degree of self policing.  If you see something illegal going on, report it.  Ban together to let elements that are undesirable know that you don't want illegal behaviors or criminal activity in your neighborhood.  Establish those formal Crime Watch groups as a visual reminder that you don't support crime and will turn in those committing crime at any opportunity you get.

For some reason I would prefer to see more African American police working in African American neighborhoods.  Somehow it just makes me think they would care more and understand more than someone whose only exposure to African American life has either been in a classroom, a bar, a television show, or a movie.

Not all people who live in impoverished areas are criminals.  Some people are there based on factors related to their background.  They have not yet been able to escape the cycle of poverty.  Police of any color should not go into such a neighborhood with an "us" versus them mentality.  That just breeds distrust and conflict.

Give me an African American policeman to work with and I would feel more comfortable than working with a Caucasian policeman.  It's a matter of expectation and trust.  Yes, that African American policeman could have been adopted by a Caucasian couple and lived a lifestyle not typical of African Americans.  But, I would know that African American policeman likely encountered some attitudes in his or her journey that would make them understand more what it is like to be an African American.

Until we're at a point where we are color blind, I think we need to just police ourselves more.  We define what behaviors we want in our communities.  Take charge.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

What One Black Man Wants

A writer writes!

How exactly does a Black Man want to be treated?  Well, I'm sure there are many answers to that question.  But, let's focus on the basics.  As a Black man who has walked this planet for over half a century, here are a few basic wants.

1.  Respect.  Talk to me with respectful words.  Within my lifetime I have read about and seen via television how Black men were disrespected verbally and treated as less than a man.  Whether it was the use of the N word or being spoken to as if they were a child.  Verbal abuse is demeaning.  Sometimes all a Black man has is his dignity.  When you attempt to tear the wall of dignity down you demean a person as a basic human being.  Don't talk to me like I am ignorant or not worthy of your time.  Whether this be in stores, or other public places, give me the same respect as you give to others.  For Policemen.....Don't allow yourself to fall prey to the desire to end my life just because you are in a position of authority.  Control that urge to kill me just because you can.  I too am a creation of God.

2.  Acknowledge I exist.  There is no need to fear saying hello to me.  A simple greeting is a simple greeting and does not imply anything else from you.  If you have a choice between acknowledging a Caucasian person who enters a room after I do, or acknowledging me because I entered first, acknowledge me.

3.  Stop labeling me as an animal you fear.  I don't want anything from you.  If you see me walking along a street in your direction, it's not all about you.  Sidewalks go in two directions.  I did not come outside to encounter you.  I have business to attend to.  Go about yours, say hello when we pass, and keep moving.  Is that too hard to do?  But, do make room for me to pass when you are walking in a group. You are not entitled to the whole sidewalk.  Move over!

4.  Deal with your stereotypes.  Stop letting stereotyped television shows and movies be your primary source of understanding me.  Ask me questions.  Engage me in a conversation and find out what are my thoughts, beliefs, and values.  Attend a cultural function in the African American community.

5.  Understand that there is no "one type" of Black Man.  We are different in our experiences, values, and beliefs.  If you choose not to talk to us, that is your choice.  Your biases about us will be based on your failure to reach out and learn by simply treating us as equals.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Denying Ray Rice a Second Chance?

A writer writes!

When the elevator video of Ray Rice and his then fiancee' was "released" to the public, I was among those who felt "he deserves a beat down".  Ray was punished shortly after the video by being released from the Baltimore Ravens.  Ray was quickly without the job that had supported him and his now wife.

There has been some legal litigation since that overturned the NFL Commissioner's punishment of Ray being semi banned from the NFL.  Now NFL teams are faced with the question of whether they should give Ray a chance and sign him to a contract.  The proverbial second chance.  So far no one has made that move.  I can't quote Gospel scriptures, but wasn't there a passage in the bible to the effect of Jesus Christ telling a crowd preparing to stone a woman for a transgression "those of you without sin cast the first stone."  After that statement no stones were thrown.

I'm not sure if NFL teams read that passage.  If Ray's behavior has changed, doesn't he deserve the opportunity to earn a living?  Or have we turned into a society where it is, one strike and you're out?  If that was the case how many of us would be where we are today?  Yes, there is no guarantee that in a moment where good judgment lapses, Ray will not do what he has done in the past.  Even now banished from the NFL we do not know what lapses in judgement Ray has had.  His wife is not making any charges that Ray is still a man who resorts to physical violence when they have disagreements.  Unless there is some overwhelming evidence that Ray is a closet wife beater it seems he should at least be given the opportunity to redeem himself.

It's 3rd down 3 yards to score.  Let's give Ray the football and see what he can do.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Visit to New Orleans

A writer writes!

A 2010 winter storm in the South canceled my first attempt to visit New Orleans, Louisiana.  Four years later, this past weekend my spouse and I visited "the big easy".  We enjoyed the food, walking (in the daytime) through the French Quarter, and visiting the French Market where I found a "man bag" to carry all the stuff that makes my pockets bulge.  We took a tour bus around the tourist areas of the Garden District, French Quarter and the Convention District area.  Those areas had the traditional look of a historic looking New Orleans.

We both agreed to avoid the French Quarter once it turned dark.  Seeing what was going on in the day time was enough!  Talking to other tourists there, we got a general opinion from others that the French Quarter at night time was full of "shocking performances" by people.

The architecture of the buildings and the food was the best part of the trip.  Just seeing a "historical" city that I've always heard about was worth the trip.  Now I can finally cross off "New Orleans" from my list of places to visit.  We really could not tell what areas near downtown had been damaged by the floods caused by the breaking of the levees after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  We saw several high rise buildings that were vacant.  Our tour guides only mentioned the after effects of Katrina when discussing the Mercedes Benz Super Dome and describing how it had been renovated after Katrina.

I would recommend a visit to New Orleans.  One or two days at least to explore the culture of the area.   Thank you New Orleans.  It was worth the wait.