Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jayru Campbell Felony Charges Dismissed

We talked previously about former Cass Tech QB Jayru Campbell and his run-ins with the law. Now I don't know about you but if I had just gotten out of jail for assaulting someone I would make sure that at least for a while I would lay low and you know, try not to assault anyone. However Jayru Campbell apparently has a brain that doesn't work normally. Just hours after getting out of jail for body slamming a school security guard, Campbell assaulted his girlfriend, allegedly because he was concerned about text or other messages on her phone which hadn't come from him. While I can certainly understand a man or in this case a boy being deeply concerned that his girlfriend has concluded that his best just wasn't good enough, the fact remains that putting your hands on people in violence is usually a bad idea. It's a horrible idea when you were just released for doing the same thing. This shows everyone that whatever you experienced in jail, the experience apparently wasn't bad enough or long enough to make you realize that you never wanted to go back. Campbell did manage to dodge a bullet so to speak when the judge decided to dismiss the most serious felony charges that Campbell faced. It's quite possible that the prosecutors overcharged. I can't say yes or no to that. I'm no attorney. It's also possible that the judge bent over backwards to give the benefit of the doubt to someone who doesn't deserve it. It's true that there are far too many people, particularly black men and boys, who are wrongly caught up in the criminal justice system. It's also true that there are some individuals of all races and both genders who do need to spend some time away from the rest of us until they know how to act. Check out the video below and let us know what you think.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why Black Conservatives Stay Losing: The Cliven Bundy Edition

As you should know from living in 2014 and interacting with a variety of people or if nothing else, just from occasionally reading the various ramblings that show up in this space, Black Americans, and for that matter black people from across the diaspora are as politically, class, and increasingly ethnically diverse as anyone else. There are black people who are adamantly opposed to gay marriage and black people who strongly support gay marriage. There are black people who are feminists and those who are not. There are black people who support a strong aggressive military and black people who want to eliminate the military and smash the state. There are black people who are pro-union and who spend all their time organizing workers. There are black people who couldn't care less about unions and who spend all their time organizing corporate mergers. There are black people who are neutral or positive about immigration reform and black people who are vociferously against it. Blah, blah, blah. Yet despite all of this political diversity, when it comes to major elections black people generally vote Democratic by percentages that are usually over 90%. These days, a Republican or conservative candidate who receives more than 10% of the black vote is doing shockingly well. Black (and other) conservatives occasionally bitterly complain about this. But they generally have no solutions. One big reason that conservative leaning candidates do so poorly with the black electorate is that the conservative segment of the American political spectrum is filled with people of all races pledging fealty to white supremacy whether they be genial white racists like Cliven Bundy or apparently insane black conservatives like Kamau Bakari. Check out the bizarre campaign ad video below. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Music Reviews: Walter Hawkins-Love Alive

Walter Hawkins
Love Alive
If, to win a million dollars, I had to name the first three male gospel singers that came to my mind in 5 seconds, I would list James Cleveland, Edwin Hawkins and Walter Hawkins. It's almost certainly because those are the people whom I grew up hearing at home and at friends' or relatives' homes. I think of all of these people as downhome traditional gospel, especially in comparison to today's gospel music. Ironically though, at their height of popularity all these musicians, but especially the Hawkins Brothers were considered by some moldy fig gospel traditionalists to be somewhat avant-garde and too close to popular music, in particular rock-n-roll. As discussed previously, a great deal of early rock-n-roll actually came directly from gospel so no one should have been too surprised to hear gospel musicians turning it up and rocking out. People like Little Richard, Otis Redding, and James Brown borrowed heavily from the church. Musicians like Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Aretha Franklin came straight from the church. And as James Cleveland famously noticed in one of his sermons, the Lord liked music. He commanded people to make a joyful noise. And what could be more joyful than hard rocking Hawkins style gospel music. Not much that's for sure. This music brings back a lot of memories, mostly good, some bad. Some of the songs on this release are often played at funerals. But that's life yes? This is music designed to be played loudly. I don't think anything here could ever be described as background music. This is music to shake your moneymaker to or to be precise it WOULD be music to shake your moneymaker to were the lyrics not all about loving God, experiencing bliss through salvation, hollering how much you love Jesus and how after death you've been washed white as snow of your sin. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jon Stewart Debates Bill O'Reilly on the Existence of White Privilege

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Supreme Court Blocks Texas Anti-Abortion Clinic Law

Hot off the press:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed more than a dozen Texas abortion clinics to reopen, blocking a state law that had imposed strict requirements on abortion providers. Had the law been allowed to stand, it would have caused all but eight of the state’s abortion clinics to close and would have required many women to travel more than 150 miles to the nearest abortion provider.

The Supreme Court’s order — five sentences long and with no explanation of the justices’ reasoning — represents an interim step in a legal fight that is far from over. But abortion rights advocates welcomed what they said was the enormous practical impact of the move. Had the clinics been forced to remain closed while appeals went forward, they said, they might never have reopened.

State officials said the law’s requirements were needed to protect women’s health. Abortion providers said the regulations were expensive, unnecessary and a ruse meant to put many of them out of business.

The justices addressed two parts of the Texas law that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had provisionally let stand while it considered an appeal.

One of them required all abortion clinics in the state to meet the standards for “ambulatory surgical centers,” including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The Supreme Court, in an unsigned order apparently reflecting the views of six justices, blocked the surgical-center requirement entirely and the admitting-privileges requirement as it applied to clinics in McAllen, Tex., and El Paso.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they would have allowed the law to be enforced.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Supreme Court Puts "Disparate Impact" Discrimination on the Chopping Block Again

When was the last time somebody said something like this to your face: "Sorry ma'am, we would have approved you for this loan but we can't because you're a woman"?  Or how about this: "John, there's no question that you are the most qualified employee for our new sales position, but we've decided to go with Bob because you're Black and Bob is White"?  No?  Not ringing any bells?  OK, let's try this one more time. How about this one: "Everything on your housing application is great, but I'm afraid we're going to have to reject you because your last name is 'Hernandez' which means you're probably of Latin origins and we can't be seen providing housing to people of Latin origins"?  Chances are, all of these quotes sound pretty foreign to most of us today.  In fact, in today's liability-conscious society, these quotes probably sound downright outrageous, right?  That's because these are all examples of what we refer to in the law as "facially discriminatory" statements.   Which is another way of saying that the statements are "direct" or "blatant" proof of discrimination.  Each of these examples, if introduced as evidence in a law suit against the people who said them, would be referred to as the infamous "smoking gun" evidence that plaintiff lawyers only dream of.  In other words, they're the type of evidence that is so obvious that the case would be over before it even began.

Even though many of us may have faced some form of discrimination in our lifetimes, it is rare in this day and age to come across a "smoking gun" example of discrimination in our day to day professional settings.  This is because no bank loan officer, employee supervisor, or any other person of authority is willing to subject their entire company to untold millions in liability by saying something as blatant as the above-cited examples.  Nobody is that stupid anymore.

But the conservative Justices on the United States Supreme Court seem to think so.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Upskirts, The Lincoln Memorial and Privacy

I believe in privacy. I also believe in free speech and free expression. Sometimes those values conflict. I have always believed that if an attractive lady has taken the trouble to put something on public display it would be rude not to look. And gentlemen should always strive to avoid being rude. The probability of me telling a non-related woman or a woman who I do not know from Eve that she is showing too much and should cover up is probably zero. I may have been tragically warped for life by watching too many Benny Hill skits at an impressionable age. That's my brother's hypothesis anyway. I don't say no to that. Nonetheless, if I did accidentally see something interesting, I definitely wouldn't grab a camera and start taking pictures. THAT seems a little bit, well creepy might be too strong of a word, but over the top would certainly fit. A gentleman doesn't do that. You take a quick glance, maybe offer a smile and keep moving. Discretion is important. You don't stand there drooling and staring like a fat man at a $2 all you can eat buffet. But everyone has different styles. When faced with publicly visible evidence of attractive femininity while visiting the Lincoln Monument, one Mr. Christopher Cleveland did more than take a brief look. He also chose not to approach the women to inform them in a non-threatening big brotherly manner that they might be revealing more than they intended. No. Mr. Cleveland decided that the right move was to whip it out (his camera that is) and start taking photographs. The local police noticed him. They forced him to stop taking pictures. They made him come away with them. Mr. Cleveland was charged with voyeurism. His camera's memory card had scores of revealing images of women in public places. And that's when things got interesting.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Movie Reviews: Neighbors

directed by Nicholas Stoller
This comedy film featured Seth Rogen in a lead role so I pretty much knew what I was going to get. Do you remember the first time that you fully understood you were an adult? For many Americans there's not really a bright line ritual that says after this you are a responsible member of our society. We have a legal drinking age of 21. Most states have legal ages of consent that are between 16 and 18. You can vote at 18. We speak of college "kids" but when a teen commits a crime for which we want to punish him beyond the strictures allowed by the juvenile system we talk of "young men." There have been, since the sixties, some social changes that can provide for an extended adolescence well past 18 or in some cases even past 21. Some entertainers whose teen years are far behind them often still seek to dress, act and talk like teens or young adults. I think that's silly and in some ways pathetic. It can be unhealthy for people and/or the larger society to demand too much responsibility and accountability from teenagers but on the other hand at some point you should be able to expect that someone past 21 be responsible and well, adult. The gray area between those two expectations are where Rogen has made a pretty good filmic comedy career.

Neighbors mines that gray area for all that it's worth. It's a funny film at times but much like We're the Millers I thought that the annoying insistence on gross humor, in this case excretory and sexual, didn't work. YMMV as this film did very well financially. I just didn't see the humor in one character angrily dismissing a frat pledge by telling him that another frat brother had had his penis in his mouth while he slept. The pledge proudly and unironically defended himself by claiming that he certainly wasn't asleep. Of course as mentioned this is a Rogen film so no one should be surprised. I liked the slapstick but could have done without all the gay jokes. Anyway.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Daily Show Takes On AIG


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Some Comic Relief for Your Day - Street Fighter, Angry Goat Edition

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Curious Case of Civis the Creepy Clerk

I ain't fooling, you need schooling
Baby you know you need cooling
Baby way down inside, woman you need love
Muddy Waters- "You Need Love"
Perv or Philanthropist?
Some people are more touchy feely than others. They like showing affection in public, not just in private. This could arise from genetics. It could be caused by how your parents raised you. It could come from how long you were nursed or any number of other reasons, including geographic, ethnic or national cultural preferences. American, and from what I hear Northern European, cultures are each supposedly a little standoffish while Southern European, Middle Eastern and some West African cultures are more relaxed about touching. I couldn't tell you for sure. I've known effusive Germans and cold Italians. What I do know is that like anything else with humans there is a continuum of behavior among people who seemingly can't connect to others without reaching out and touching them and people who would prefer that workplace/non-sexual touching of any kind be discouraged. I tend to fall in the second category. Work is work. So please keep your hands to yourself unless we are related or we are already intimate(or planning to be). In some states there isn't always a difference between these two categories but I digress. Snicker. It is a fact though that in the workplace, especially when there is a gender and/or a sexuality difference, many people prefer minimal physical contact, and ESPECIALLY no form of physical contact that could be possibly misconstrued as flirtatious, harassing or sexual. A hand shake is okay. A hand on a woman's hip, thigh, chest or behind definitely isn't. A fist bump or hand slap for closing a deal is fine. A facial caress isn't. A brief hug or shoulder pat to a co-worker who just lost a parent, spouse or child is usually acceptable. A tight full body embrace with a peer who has returned from an overseas trip just might send out the wrong message. Just saying. And so on. 

Americans generally recognize some responses as being reasonable for someone who is providing your nookie and totally inappropriate for someone who is not handling that task. This isn't rocket science, folks. Unfortunately a grocery store clerk in West Michigan has forgotten that it is truly not his job to provide hugs and bottom pats for women who, in his opinion, look like they might need them. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

President Obama Sells Out Workers

We all are hypocrites in one way or the other. It's just part of being human. Nobody is consistent across the board on everything. However I am amazed by the fact that the Obama Administration has managed to maintain so much support from labor and many members of the working class when it continues to display that it is not necessarily a big friend of the working class. Its rhetoric doesn't match its actions. One of the critical employee rights which we are supposed to have in this country, whether we are union or non-union, white collar or blue collar, is that if you work for someone else you should be paid for the time you're at work and the tasks you complete. There are a few marginal exceptions to this. The exempt professional worker usually does not automatically get time and a half overtime pay for more than 40 hours of work per week. Such pay might be made but it's much more likely to be compensated (if at all) in additional time off at some later date. Possibly. Maybe. It depends on your company's policy and boss's needs. Obviously in some professions, working 40 hours per week is considered slacking. You don't become partner at a law firm, trading boss at a hedge fund, or head surgeon at the hospital by only working 40 hrs each week. The flip side of that though is that if a salaried professional leaves early one day because they're sick or have a family emergency or just want to see a playoff baseball game, their next paycheck probably won't include a line item for pay docked. So in theory it balances out.

Still whether professional or not, if the company says you must do X as part of your job duties chances are you will do X as part of your job duties, if you want to continue getting paid. And getting paid is the key thing here. The company shouldn't be able to obtain work or time from you for free. Of course companies are amoral and increasingly want to do just that. And for some strange reason the Obama Administration is siding with the companies.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Book Reviews: Gentlemen of the Road, The Harlem Hellfighters, The Night Eternal

Gentlemen of the Road
by Michael Chabon
If you like adventure tales with a side order of mystery you might enjoy this book. Or if you just like buddy stories then this might be okay. And obviously if you can enjoy self-aware heroes who don't mind engaging in sarcasm or constantly arguing with each other about things that might not appear to be all that important to outsiders then this story could be up your alley.
Chabon dedicated this book to the sci-fi/fantasy author Michael Moorcock but it also pays homage to the fantasy author Fritz Leiber and his Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series. There is also more than a dash of cop buddy storyline here. I liked this book. I liked it even more because unlike many genre entries the book was short. My hardcover edition clocked in at just under 200 pages.  Imagine that. Someone wrote a good story without rambling on forever. So in yet another way this story is also a throwback to people like Leiber and Moorcook. Much of their best work was done in novellas or short stories instead of sprawling 900 page works, though of course Moorcock proved himself quite adept at that as well. The book's initial working title was Jews with Swords. As Chabon explains in the afterword this was probably a rejoinder and corrective to some people's (including his own) image of Jews as urbanized nebbishes who look and sound as if they stepped out of a Woody Allen movie. Chabon thinks that a people with a history of exile and pogroms, kingdoms won and lost, have just as much raw material for adventure stories as anyone else. I also enjoyed this book because a main character reminded me of Ice Cold from Fear of a Black Hat. I have to empathize with any character who's fussy about his style and accoutrement. After all they come a running just as fast as they can cause every girl is crazy about a sharp dressed man.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

**Update** Theresa and "Juicy" Joe Giudice Sentencing -- Joe Sentenced to 41 Months in Prison

"Real Housewives of New Jersey" Star's Theresa and Joe Giudice to be Sentenced Today

A little background.....

Theresa and Joe Giudice are the New Jersey couple famous for their recurring appearance on Bravo's "Real Housewives of New Jersey." Theresa was the one who flipped a table in season one of the series. She is also the person that said that is was necessary for her and her husband to build a home from the ground up, because living in a "used home" (home that was occupied by a family prior to them) was gross and disgusting. Yep! You read right. Theresa and "Juicy" Joe made too many ignorant statements for me to possibly list here. However, if you are unfamiliar with these folks I want you to understand they are not the good clean nosed Christians that they would like us all the believe that they are. 

Last year both Theresa and Joe were charged with 41 counts of bank, bankruptcy, wire and mail fraud, and Joe Giudice also faced five counts of failing to pay taxes. They plead guilty to a handful of the charges and were awaiting sentencing, which is happening right now. They both could receive a lengthy prison sentence and possible deportation for Joe, since he is a "foreigner" committing crimes on our good american soil :)

Stay tuned for the announcement of the couples sentence today...


Joe Giudice Sentenced to 41 Months for Bankruptcy and Mail Fraud, Theresa Still Awaiting Her Sentence

From Yahoo!:

The Real Housewives of New Jersey couple appeared in federal court in Newark on Thursday to be sentenced for bankruptcy, mail, and wire fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salasgave ordered Joe to serve 41 months in prison and Teresa is still awaiting her sentence. Joe was fined $10,000 and they both must pay back $414,000 in loans that they illegally obtained.

The sentences could have been worse considering that she faced 27 months in prison and he faced 46. What is still to be determined, once Joe completes his sentence, is whether he will be deported back to Italy.
The pair had initially been charged with 41 counts of bank, bankruptcy, wire, and mail fraud — with Joe facing additional charges related to unpaid taxes — but they made a deal in March. Teresa pleaded guilty to three counts of bankruptcy and one count of mail and wire fraud while Joe pleaded guilty to five counts, including a failure to file income taxes.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pay your auto loan or don't drive!!!

I generally think that if you take out a loan you should adhere to the legally enforceable terms of the contact. So if you agree to pay X dollars back per month then you really should pay X dollars back per month. It irritates me when people borrow money from me and find all sorts of creative reasons why they should not pay it back. I think this is true regardless of financial status. Pay what you owe. A deal is a deal. That said, depending on what the loan or service was, the creditor can encounter difficulty getting repayment. The Federal government and to a lesser extent state governments have fewer problems getting money owed from you as they have the power to just TAKE money from your account, seize your assets, tell your employer or bank to stop giving you money and put you in prison. That will get your attention. Utility providers can shutoff service for non payment. Customers notice that. Loan officers operating outside the law can send unpleasant people to your home or workplace to threaten physical harm if they don't immediately receive payment. Getting your shins cracked with a baseball bat or having your hands broken can provide financial clarity. Some other creditors, say lenders on auto loans, don't have the ability to immediately and seamlessly compel payment. They loaned money on a quickly depreciating asset. Many people don't give car loans priority over housing or food costs. The debtor can easily move his car to another state. To repossess the asset, depending on state law, the creditor usually has to go to court to obtain a judgment before hiring some semi-reputable people to retrieve the vehicle. This could all be messy and costly. In some zip codes if someone hears or sees someone breaking into their car, they will shoot first and ask questions later. So what's a creditor to do?