Tucker Carlson: Michael Vick ‘Should Have Been Executed’ (VIDEO)

December 29, 2010

Tucker Carlson saying someone should be executed isn’t news — it’s one of his many neo-con wet daydreams as part of his mindless stand-ins on FOX News. Roland Martin and others are right. How does someone with the analytical ineptitude of former Mr. Bowtie Wearer keep getting news show gigs between FOX News, PBS and CNN? Because like most of his ilk, Carlson sounds reasonable and reasoned, albeit from the perspectiv­e that makes most high-and-m­ighty bigots feel good about themselves­. If we use Carlson’s reasoning about Vick, then it’s safe to say that the faux-journ­alist and commentato­r should never have gotten a second chance after Crossfire went off the air on CNN six years ago.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Interceptions Cause Excitement and Emotion

December 28, 2010

Ed Reed of Baltimore Ravens Pick, 2004, December 28, 2010. Source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/jeffri_chadiha/08/30/chadiha.safeties/index.html; AP Photo. Though this image is subject to copyright, its use is covered by the U.S. fair use laws because the photo is only being used for informational purposes.

Eli Manning’s masterful four-interception performance against the Green Bay Packers this past Sunday for my New York Giants the day after Christmas (as he was still in the spirit of giving, with his league-high 24 picks so far this season) inspired this latest post of mine. Not to mention ESPN columnist Jemele Hill’s tweeted R&B musical musings about the aerial mistakes of strong armed QBs and the lyrics of Lynn Ahrens and Schoolhouse Rock. I give you my adaptation of “Interjections,” “Interceptions:”


With Eli Manning at quarterback, uh-huh-huh,
The defense knew how to at-tack.
They baited the man
With Cov-2 again
While #10 threw some interceptions…

F***! Oh no!
S***! Oh God!
D***! That really, really sucks!

Interceptions (F***!) cause excitement (S***!) and emotion (D***!).
They’re generally set apart from a sack or fumble by a Pick-6 down the field
Or by dejection when the result’s not as bad.

Though Jay Cutler has a strong arm, uh-huh-huh
Jay didn’t know he could do, ha-arm
He was put under pressure
And despite his great treasure
Cutler lofted some interceptions…

What! Who are you throwing at, pal?
Oh my God! You think the ball comes with a radar system!
Hey! You’re kinda dumb, aren’t you?

Interceptions (Well!) cause excitement (OMG!) and emotion (Hey!).
They’re generally set apart from a sack or fumble by a Pick-6 down the field
Or by dejection when the result’s not as bad.

So if you’re happy (Hurray!) or sad (Man!)
Or pissed off (Grrrrr!) or mad (Rats!)
Or excited (Yes!) or glad (Yay!)
An interception makes or breaks a game.

The game was tied at seven all, uh-huh-huh,
When Brett Favre tried to throw the ba-hall
He made a connection
In the other direction,
And the crowd saw a game-ending interception…

Aw! You threw it right to him – again!
Damn! You just lost the game – again!
Yes! Favre, you choked – again!

Interceptions (Aw!) cause excitement (Damn!) and emotion (Yes!).
They’re generally set apart from a sack or fumble by a Pick-6 down the field
Or by dejection when the result’s not as bad.

So if you’re happy (Hurray!) or sad (Man!)
Or pissed off (Grrrrr!) or mad (Rats!)
Or excited (Yes!) or glad (Yay!)
An interception makes or breaks a game.

Interceptions (Hey!) cause excitement (Hey!) and emotion (Hey!).
They’re generally set apart from a sack or fumble by a Pick-6 down the field
Or by dejection when the result’s not as bad.

Interceptions cause excitement and emotion,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah… YEA!

Turn out the lights! The party’s over! (Even if the Giants somehow make the playoffs this year).

Sweet and Sour 16

December 27, 2010

Slice of cake nicer looking, but similar in style to cake I had 25 years ago, December 27, 2010. Source: http://www.cake-decorating-corner.com

Happy forty-first birthday to me! Competing with the savior of humanity on the last week of the year has never been easy. Most years, there’s been no contest between the observed celebration of Jesus’ birth and the date of my actual birth. But the second half of my growing up years were the worst in terms of how I saw my birthday. From ’78 to ’87, there were two Happy Birthdays for me: one in ’79, and one in ’85. The one that occurred twenty-five years ago, I’d rather forget.

My sixteenth birthday, the twenty-seventh of December, was the first time since I turned nine that anyone bothered to give me a cake. This was a spontaneous decision, as I sat around 616 all day with little to do but watch after my younger siblings. Mom and Maurice agreed to buy me a birthday cake. Since it was my abusive stepfather’s money, I didn’t want any cake. I especially didn’t want the Carvel ice cream cake he thought I should have. I mean, it was a cold last Friday in December day, and all he could come up with was ice cream cake?

Carvel Ice Cream Store, Edenwald, East 233rd Street & Paulding Avenue, Bronx, New York, December 27, 2010. jag9889 at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jag9889

The kicker was that I had to go get the cake. It was my birthday, but I had to leave 616, catch the 7 bus to Prospect, get off at Waldbaum’s and walk over to the empty Carvel store to buy a chocolate ice cream cake with a huge vanilla ice cream coating. I bought it and brought it home so we could celebrate me turning sixteen.

I wasn’t thankful for this assignment, and it showed. I had two bites before my older brother Darren and my younger siblings devoured the rock-hard dessert. I wished that Maurice would just go somewhere and die. Not a violent death or one that I had to be the cause of. Just a death that he deserved, like a massive coronary blockage due to a diet rich in saturated fats.

About a week ago, I told my seven-year-old son this story. Or at least, an exaggerated, funny and much less painful fictionalized version of it. I made my ex-stepfather into Jabba the Hutt, and my Carvel ice cream cake into a small square boulder that was painted white. At one point in the story, I told Noah that I hit my stepfather in the head with a piece of the cake, “knocking him out cold.” I made it so that my siblings ate the cake like Shaggy and Scooby ate Scooby Snacks after solving a case, with tongues circling their faces and licking off the excess to boot.

Noah just laughed and laughed throughout. I just hope that he finds something to laugh about when he finally hears the real story.

NBER Report: Great Teachers Are Worth $400,000 A Year

December 23, 2010

Here we go again with an overemphas­is on teacher effectiven­ess as THE way to high student achievemen­t. Yes, teachers — especially elementary school teachers — deserve higher pay, on par with a middle-man­ager in a nonprofit or in government­. But parental and community engagement­, curriculum alignment, ending high-stake­s testing, an emphasis on literacy across the curriculum­, more profession­al developmen­t, better training school leadership are also needed. Not to mention address related issues of poverty and overall community developmen­t and health.

It’s a bit disingenuo­us to put a price tag on — excuse me, a cost-benef­its approach to describing — teacher effectiven­ess, to say the least. Without the inclusion of non-helico­pter / non-soccer mom parents as part of schooling or education reform, and without supportive and effective school leadership­, having great teachers will only mean they’ll move on after five years for a job that pays more. All of this is this corporate mentality to improving education, an approach that has worked so well for us in banking, real estate and hiring, right?
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Colleges, HBCUs, and the No-Profit Motive

December 20, 2010

Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, December 20, 2010. Source: http://www.photohome.com

At the beginning of my junior year at the University of Pittsburgh (’89-’90), I took a cross-listed English lit and Black Studies course on African American women and men in literature. I took it partly to fulfill a writing requirement, and partly because I wanted to explore literature written by Black authors for once.


Besides the decidedly poor view of Black men in this literature — no doubt why Tyler Perry sees no need in developing a Black male character with the minimal complexity of a Worf of Mogh from the Star Trek franchise — there was another issue I needed to overcome. It was a 5:45 to 8:10 pm class on a Tuesday evening. Prior to the fall of ’89, I’d only taken one course that started after 4 pm, an assembly language course, and I withdraw from it after switching my major to history the previous fall.

But this course was great, despite books like The Women of Brewster Place and A Woman’s Place. I knew what some of the smartest Black women on campus thought of me before I opened my mouth. But much more important than that, I got to know a greater cross-section of students than the traditional daytime students between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. Nontraditional students — adult learners as we educators call them now — populated our classroom.

They were housed in the College of General Studies, which didn’t mean anything negative to me. Some of my older friends from my freshman courses were CGS students, and were sharper in wit and wisdom than many of my Honors College friends and Humanities classmates from Mount Vernon High School in New York. They added tremendously to this course, and made it so much more fun than I would’ve had with other twenty-year-olds.

I ended up taking six 5:45 to 8:10 courses in my last two years of undergrad, and two more evening courses my first year of grad school at Pitt. They were some of my most memorable courses, with a diverse student population because of CGS, with students who were fully capable of performing well in a college setting. In part because counselors and other student services staff at CGS were available to help these students overcome their relative lack of academic preparation and because almost all of the courses these students took were fully integrated into Pitt’s course schedule.

It seems obvious. But treating adult learners with the care they needed and giving them courses that any traditional student could take made them feel more at home, and probably were significant factors in the success I saw so many of them have.

Fast forward eighteen years to my two semesters as an adjunct professor at Howard University. Besides

Founders Library, Howard University, Washington, DC Photo taken 9 April 2006 with Canon Powershot SD300. David Monack, author, released photo into public domain.

the laziness of the students in my Teaching Black Studies course — not to mention the stuffiness of the faculty (imagine referring to all of your colleagues as “Dr. So-and-So,” and not by their first names) — the main problem I had with them was with the times offered for my course. They originally wanted me to teach on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday noontime schedule. But I worked full-time, and preferred to teach an evening course. The Afro-American Studies department compromised, and gave me a 5 pm course that met Monday-Thursday during the summer.


My fall course, though, fell through, as the latest Howard wanted to schedule it was at 4 pm, and then mislabeled the course on top of that. It was a ridiculous experience, dealing with underprepared and entitled, spoiled students, not to mention a lethargic faculty and administration. I learned later that Howard didn’t offer evening, weekend or distance learning courses at the undergraduate level. I learned soon after that many universities — historically Black and otherwise — were more like Howard than they were like my student and teaching experiences at Pitt, Duquesne and George Washington.

There’s real money that universities — especially HBCUs — are giving up to maintain a false sense of the college experience for faculty and students alike. Even among traditional students, working part-time jobs and having expansive extracurricular activities makes it difficult to fit appropriate classes in between 8 am and 5 pm. While online teaching is one way to go, putting together course offerings that fit the schedules of twenty-first century students is a better place to start.

While the Harvards, Yales, Princetons, and even Carnegie Mellons of the university universe can afford to act like its 1969 still, Howard, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta and so many others cannot. You want to stay solvent and academically relevant? Dusting off the course booklet and looking at evenings and Saturdays to accommodate all of your potential students is a great place to begin.

USAID suspends District-based nonprofit AED from contracts amid investigation

December 16, 2010

I learned from a friend last night that my former employer, Academy for Educational Development (AED), was suspended by USAID for mismanagement of millions of dollars http://wapo.st/gIhw8Y. I’m mostly unsurprised. But it’s still shocking and very disappointing to learn that a place that I worked so hard for between December 2000 and February ’08 might’ve been involved in corruption, and on a fairly large scale.

The slogan for the organization for most of the time I worked there was “Connecting People, Creating Change.” It seems to me that if this investigation holds water, the C’s for corruption (obvious why) and chaos — for the futures of most of the staff — should be added to its fifty-year legacy. I was never a big fan of the organization, as its corporate structure wasn’t particularly appealing to me. But I did have quite a few friends and colleagues who I enjoyed working with over the course of my seven years. It’s those folks that I feel for the most right now. Especially in our current economic and job climate.

Slumming Lords Spinning Stories Out Of Suffering

December 15, 2010

New York City – “Doing the slums” – A scene in the Five Points / from a sketch by a staff artist, Policeman leading upper class people through the Five Points neighborhood, Published 1885; December 15, 2010. Source: http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3c20000/3c22000/3c22600/3c22660v.jpg

In July and August ’83, my family’s first summer on welfare, then US Secretary of Agriculture John Block decided to do an experiment involving food stamps, at least as reported by USA Today at the time (unfortunately, USA Today’s archives only go as far back as ’87). He had himself and his family “live” off of food stamps — $58 worth — for a week.

Official Secretary of Agriculture Photo, John R. Block, December 15, 2010. Source: http://news.siu.edu/news/April04/040104pr4039.htm

Mind you, Block didn’t move them out of their comfortable home in NW DC to live in SE Washington or off North Capitol Street and New Jersey Avenue. They didn’t stop buying clothes, driving cars or paying their other bills. No, for a week, the Block family — including their nineteen-year-old daughter and the daughter’s equally anorexic nineteen-year-old friend — bought their food with food stamps to show how hard (or easy) it was for a family of four to budget for all of their eating needs on the government welfare dime.

Last week, Mediabistro.com reported on twenty-three year-old Daily Caller reporter and American University grad student Matthew Boyle’s work to do a three-story account of his food stamps experience. “You wouldn’t think I’d qualify….I don’t meet the traditional definition of a poor person, and in fact I’m not poor. But that didn’t matter to the District’s Department of Human Services. They approved me anyway,” Boyle said. Then Boyle gave his income. “I make $600 a month writing for Daily Caller and another $493 as a teaching assistant at AU. My rent is $1,365.”

Sorry Boyle, but by income alone, you qualify for food stamps, because unless things have changed since my grad school years, only your part-time reporter income counts as traditional income from a workforce standpoint, enabling you to qualify. By definition, you are poor, no matter your middle-income and elite university sensibilities.

But there’s a more important point than shattering Boyle’s socioeconomic views of himself that I need to make here, though. It stems in part from these strokes of Boyle’s keyboard: “The arrangement works because most of my rent and other expenses are covered under my student loans or paid by my parents (thanks, Mom and Dad).”

Vintage Food Stamps. Source: http://slashfood.com

Yes, this is what makes your situation a middle class one, your loans and your parents. As if millions of other people who are poor or solidly middle class haven’t received help from loans, parents, or, God-forbid, food stamps. That someone with Boyle’s background shouldn’t qualify because his parents have the dollars to bail him out.

It’s downright idiotic to complain about qualifying for food stamps. There are millions of other people with similar incomes, including grad students, who are grateful to have the program to supplement their income so that they can eat and pay rent. It’s also a bit arrogant to see the system as flawed from the contrarian perspective of a White middle class outsider — one who is technically poor at present — who thinks that it’s too easy to get food stamps.

This goes beyond John Block or Matthew Boyle, though. I took a creative nonfiction writing class to help kick-start my transition from academic writing to other, more literary forms in September ’01. The class was mostly made up of folks who saw themselves as middle class, many of whom were White. For one particular personal literary account assignment, four of these students decided to interview homeless men and women, all of whom were of color. I think that was the last class I showed up for, to hear these students talk about how touched they were by the horrors that had affected their subjects.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to understand or even help others less fortunate than us. The need to go slumming so that you can tell a story, though, is all too typical of a superficially minded society and journalism community. I didn’t need Block’s August ’83 experiment to know that it was hard to shop with food stamps — I shopped every day for my mother with them, and usually with a tinge of bitterness about using them. Boyle’s slumming to uncover inconsistencies is an example of yet another wannabe journalist making their name off of others misery.

These are stories that would be much better told by someone who’s either lived the experience or is extremely knowledgeable of the people and subjects involved. But in our screwed up world, people like me are too biased to tell these stories, in articles and in books. And people wonder why writers like James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison became expatriates or bitter later in their careers.


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