EB: Giving ’em the business!

Brain dumps from the original Bonehead.

I am not a journalist.

And I doubt anyone who’s been around here for any length of time would mistake me for one.  Because I’m not a journalist and I’m not really held to any standards… well, I can pretty much say what I want to.

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits!!   (R.I.P.)

Uhm… yeah… like that.  So anyway – while reading through a recent article on MSNBC I heard that old, familiar buzzing of my world-famous Bullshit Sensor.  The article read as follows:

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama announced Thursday that he will help pay off Hillary Rodham Clinton’s more than $20 million debt, personally writing a check in a gesture meant to win over her top financial backers.  
(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25387235/)

I underlined the part that set off the B.S.S.  Like I said, I’m no journalist and there’s alot that I don’t know about the field, but I thought there was this ‘journalistic integrity’ thing that was supposed to prevent this kind of crap?  Right?

If I’m not reading an editorial, or a blog (HA!), then my news report should be an objective relay of facts and nothing more.  And if the Obamas didn’t announce that the check was being written in an attempt to win over Clinton’s financial backers, then the “journalist” is either guessing at motivation, or they’re subjecting me to their opinion. 

Hey Associated Press, here’s a thought: when the facts of the story are help was needed and help was given, hows about you don’t set the tone in the first paragraph by pawning the gesture off as a measured publicity stunt?!  But don’t worry, Journalist Person – I’m sure there will come a day when we all want to know what you think… and when we do we’ll come read YOUR blog! 

 

-E

June 30, 2008 Posted by | Observations | 3 Comments

Overinflated.

I’ve been pretty lucky for the past few years – my rent increased at all… but that wasn’t always the case!  A few years ago while living down in Florida I had the misfortune of watching my monthly payment increase anywhere from 60-95 dollars with each annual renewal.  Also, during that time, the price of gasoline increased roughly a dollar per gallon… and at 12 miles-per-gallon, and if you want to know what THAT feels like just grab a handful of Short Curlys in a nice firm grasp and just yank as hard as you can.

Unnecessary and definitely uncool.

You’re right – my bad.  I think being away for so long has made me a bit overeager?  Sell the truck would be the conventional solution but maybe not when I already own it.  Book value is maybe four grand and buying a new vehicle is going to mean taking on a new note.  Even with the savings in gas expenses it would take years to begin to recoup any of it.

Anyways, all of this got me to thinking about the conceptual nature of how this financial stuff is supposed to work; and wondering if it’s really “supposed to work” at all?   Let’s go back to the rent thing for a second.  During those three years where my rent kept going up, let’s say I held down a job and maintained status quo… nothing special but not below average either.  I could then reasonably look forward to the average run-of-the-mill, 3% annual increase right?  That’s, of course, taking alot of ‘givens’ into account – such as the company I work for being in good enough financial standing that they’re actually giving out annual increases, but what the hell… let’s go wild. 

So to fully flesh out this scenario, let’s say I’m earning an above average salary, ok?  We’ll call it 50k per year just to simplify the math.  At the end of one year that’s an additional $1,500 to my yearly base and then at the end of year two that’s an additional $1,545 – that’s a gain of $3,045 from year one to year three by having some good days and some bad days, not getting promoted and not getting canned.  Now, before we get into some full-contact Buzzkill, I should mention that all of these are pre-tax numbers.  Once you reduce that by the national average of 30.8% to pay taxes that leaves an average of about $1,050 per year, or $87.50 in take-home income each month.   

And now to bring it full circle: back to the 12 mpg gas guzzler and the annual rent spikes.  Eighty-seven dollars a month would set me just about even on that annual rent increase if the price of gas wasn’t continually on the rise… but it is.  Or maybe I’d break even if I’d been good enough to warrant a four or five percent raise in that hypothetical scenario. 

Whatever.  Enough with the IF’s.  You remember Ed?  Remember that line he used to say?  If my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle!  Enough with the damn IFs.

Right.  So, again, how is all of this supposed to work?  When you think if pulling even, financially or otherwise, you’re thinking of average, right?  But even starting with an above-average salary the only way to break even is to be exceptional.  I’m no numbers wizard and it’s quite possible that I’m missing something here but it seems to me that something in this system is broken. 

Just to be clear – I’m not suggesting that our taxes should lowered because cutting into the profit margins just isn’t allowed… lower taxes would only mean that less gets done.  Besides, many “civilized” nations actually charge a higher percentage than the U.S. does.  What I want to understand is how does the average American citizen financially survive in our present conditions?

 

-E

June 21, 2008 Posted by | Observations, Work | 4 Comments

So, why did you stop writing?

If I had a nickel for everytime someone asked me that question… well… I’d still be broke – but that’s not the point.

The point is I don’t really have a good answer for it.  I thought I did.  I stuck by it for months or years or whatever it’s been but the fact of the matter is that a friend asked me today and as I began reciting entry #28 in my handy Excuse Manual, my trusty Bullshit Sensor suddenly jumped clear off the charts!

Did you just call bullshit on yourself?  Dude, you need help.

Yup… he’s back too. 

So anyway – I don’t have a good answer for that and, my apologies to the local Fire Department, but I don’t have my Excuse Manual anymore either.  It’s amazing how naked I feel without that thing. 

Welcome back, everybody.  See you soon!

 

-E

June 2, 2008 Posted by | Observations | 4 Comments

By Request: The N Word.

A friend asked if I had ever written up anything specifically addressing 'the N word' and I told her no.  We discussed the whole "-a" versus "-er" topic regarding how Nigg is applied and, seperately, the concept of "claiming" the word through desensitization.  And, of course, let us not forget the Sticks & Stones school of thought.  This is probably going to be one of those things that I write and I end up having second thoughts for days and weeks afterwards but fuck it, let's roll.

Application: One could argue that nigga has taken on the requisite flexibility to become the brown man's equivalent of dude and, in fact, for said brown folk that have infiltrated corporate america, the two have become so interchangeable that the choice of usage often depends primarily on the demographic makeup of present company.  Think about it. 

Perspective: Life can be like going to a stadium to watch a ballgame – there are literally tens of thousands of seats we can sit in to watch the game; and though we all watch the same game from every seat in the house, each seat offers a slightly different view.  I've heard opinions on the N-Word ranging from "the filthiest, dirtiest word in the English language"; to "I say nigger fifty times a day… it makes my teeth white", now that's pretty broad range huh?  I'd say the dirtiest word (or at least one of them) is coward, but that's just me… and that brings me to my next thought.

Getting Personal: I've always been one of those 'deeper meaning' kind of folk – as in, anything said without malicious intent likely won't bother me much.  For example, I'm in my 30s but I can still clearly remember the first time someone called me a nigger: 1981, a kid in my class named Justin called me from his house to tell me him and his buddy were going to whip my ass at school the next day for being a dirty, shit-colored nigger.  The following day, instead of brown-bagging my lunch I plastic bagged it because mom always packed me a can of juice and since a plastic bag is longer I could spin it up and brain him with it if he wanted to try me.  Yes, even at the age of seven I was thorough.  The point being that his use of the word was intended to make me feel bad about who I am and that just won't be tolerated.

Respect: Often when I encounter people from, say, the more beligerent end of the equation, they're either young militants or people actually old enough to remember Jim Crow and fire hoses.  Regardless whether you're from that time or not, if you aren't aware of what has happened, and if you don't respect the struggles those people had to endure to have the freedoms that are enjoyed today then you are doing yourself a disservice.  There are words to describe a person that benefits but does not appreciate and none of those words are compliments.

Evolution: Every generation seems to have a cute little nickname – The Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y…  I often refer to the present crop as 'Generation I Don't Give A Fuck'.  Of course every batch has their distinct flavor of tree-hugging protestors in general anything that isn't on MTV or MySpace.com just ain't that interesting to these little shits.  This is usually the demographic you're dealing with when you get the "I didn't say nigger, I said nigga.  That's a whole different word" argument.  Horseshit.  Plain and simple.  We're talking about the same shit, simply acknowledge that it's a slang word for a slang word and we're done here, let's move on. 

Bliss: Ever just sit and watch kids playing?  Kids that haven't been exposed to racism?  Kids that haven't even seen flinching and dirty looks much less racial slurs?  I have.  It's the reason I haven't given up yet.  Anybody that's ever burned themselves knows that fire is hot and it's got nothing to do with fireism, it's just growing up.  Badness happened and you learned from it and unless you're in some way damaged it's what you're supposed to do.  If all slurs and racism are learned behaviors and unlearning is a supremely difficult task to attempt (even a firefighter would call you crazy for rushing into a burning building without gear!), then, can the best weapon possibly BE ignorance?  As scary as it is to even consider the idea, if I pissed down your shoe twice a day for a week to try and aggravate you and you didn't even budge then not only am I not getting to you at all but I'm also wasting my time trying. 

I guess which side of this fence you find yourself on depends on whether or not you feel that the ends justify the means.  Maybe those little pricks have something of value to contribute after all? 

-E

April 22, 2006 Posted by | Observations | 1 Comment

P.S. Not-Good-Enough

I don't know why but lately I've found myself pondering the public school system. Odd, considering that I don't have children and I'm well over a decade removed from said system, but that's where my head's been nonetheless. What can I say… it's not easy being green. So, in it's usual progression, thinking evolved into wondering which then evolved into researching, and this ultimately resulted in me banging my head onto the keyboard again.

I've been thinking alot about not just the school system in general but about specific things like how it works and such. It's not uncommon to hear fragments in the media about public schools being poorly maintained or having old, worn textbooks; but once you get to college and the book money is coming directly out of your pocket, it's also not uncommon to opt for the older books, this time of your own volition! Ok – so let's skip the books part… so long as they're legible, the pages aren't stuck together, and the info isn't outdated, we're good.

Someone recently asked me which subjects I was best at in school and my answer was: it varied from one year to the next. Though I was typically a math/science guy, there've been plenty of times where I was unusually strong in language, history, etc, not because I was in a rare mood for the whole year, but because I had a teacher that was particularly adept at making it interesting. On the off chance I lucked out and got a teacher that was not only interesting and passionate, but also adamant about holding me accountable instead of letting me skate by for just being "gifted", that's when I really dug in deep and grew as a person.

It's amazing what you discover that you're capable of when someone refuses to take any of your shit, ain't it?

Yeah, pretty much. Last night there was this thing on HBO where actor/comedian Robert Wuhl, who also turns out to be a big history buff, lectures a college class on little known pieces of trivia about American history. In most cases history bores me senseless but his enthusiasm and delivery and material made for a very interesting program. For the sake of argument, let's say that we all feel that way – that the right person can make even a dull topic more appealing. Teachers, then, make a big difference in the quality of education.

I've often heard standardized tests being wholly dismissed for being culturally biased. I'd often interpret that as a euphemistic way of saying they're designed to prevent minorities from succeeding academically. Most of these tests are just math and English, occasionally history or science or something but always comprised of stuff we should have been exposed to during the school year. If you're being tested on things you were taught how can the test be biased against anybody's race or gender or anything? Sure, there's big words and you're being watched closely and there's great pressure to perform but that just makes it a little bit more like real life, doesn't it?

But there's lots of different factors that can influence academic and testing performance.  I had every excuse in the book to perform poorly but I was home schooled and maybe just a bit special, oh, and competitive as hell too.  What about other kids whose parents aren't leaving it entirely up to schoolteachers and are home schooling or coughing up the bucks for tutoring?  Or kids that are genuinely gifted or just plain hard workers and refuse to stop working until they're at the top of their class?  No one expects every student to have the same level of drive; or every parent to have the time or finances to make home schooling or tutoring an available option for each kid.  But what we do expect is that each kid that shows up in school is going to have roughly the same shot that every other kid has but that apparently isn't the case either.

Say, did you know that public schools receive bonus money from the state government as rewards for performance based on their standardized test scores?  We're not talking about a high school out in some well-to-do neighborhood that can afford to field Lacrosse and Equestrian teams.  No.  The faculty at schools that record higher scores on standardized tests are rewarded financially. 

These schools are getting their "pick of the liter", so to speak, because of simple common sense.  If you were a schoolteacher would you rather do your job at a school where metal detectors and armed security are needed to ensure safety, or a school where test scores are higher and you'll be paid more for doing the same damn job?  Well it's not really up to you because everybody wants to work at that second school and they're only accepting the best candidates.  The rest will have to take jobs at whatever schools will have them. 

Who you know may be plenty important once your kids are all grow'd up but while they're coming up, apparently, who your neighbors are can be just as important.  I guess it really does take a village to raise a child?

-E

April 8, 2006 Posted by | Observations | 1 Comment

Groundbreaking? No, but it’s still interesting!

Did you see it?  The name of the show is called “Black. White.” and, unfortunately, I can’t say it’s an entirely new concept thanks to an old B/W film I saw called Black Like Me.  What they have in common is that in both of these productions makeup is used to conceal a person’s race.  Where Black Like Me was a movie about a White reporter that went undercover, in 1964 (???), to find out what it was like to be Black; this new show has two families, one Black and one White, and…

Wait.  Stop.  Hold it right there.  A White man, in 1964, wanted to find out what it felt like to get attacked by police dogs?  ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???

See the movie, seriously, but do it carefully – don’t draw comparisons or look to validate or disprove, just take it for what it is: a recollection of events that really happened to this guy.  Anyway… this new show is using Hollywood’s latest makeup tricks to conduct an experiment where two White adults and a young White girl and two Black adults and a young Black boy will change races! 

What’s fascinating to me is the way these families are approaching this experiment, they’re trying to pick up just enough language and mannerisms to complete the charade.  This isn’t some C. Thomas Howell thing about White people trying to “act Black” or vice versa…  well, with the possible exception of Bruno – the older White gentleman who seems to be eagerly immersing himself in his newly permissible usage of the otherwise forbidden N-word.

Run that by me again?  There’s a White dude on commercial TV saying nigger?

Yes.  Enthusiastically.  But it’s not what you think – he’s an older guy from a different time in America; racism in his day didn’t have to be subtle so it wasn’t.  The guy is eagerly awaiting someone to get in his (painted) face and call him a nigger so he can blow their mind when he responds calmly.  It seems that, in his mind, he’s already got the whole encounter planned out. 

Did you see it?  F/X Network.  You’ve only missed one show so far.  Take a look…  it’s a fascinating experiment.

-E

March 13, 2006 Posted by | Observations | 2 Comments

Vince Young versus the Wonderlic.

Not a big football fan?  Don’t sweat it – this one should still make sense.  Ok, check this out… this guy Vince Young is the one of the next upcoming superstar quarterbacks.  He was the MVP of this years college football national championship, yadda yadda yadda.  The guy can run, he can throw, he can improvise and, bottom line, he can flat out play football. 

Next comes the NFL Combine; it’s the “interview process” that college football players have to go through before they can get signed to their multi-million dollar pro contracts; they’re measured and tested in every imaginable way, strength, speed, a variety of agility drills and even a modified SAT/IQ test called The Wonderlic.  It’s a 50-question, multiple choice test WITH difficulty levels varying from very simple to very complex.  There is the now-infamous:

The ninth month of the year is: 1) October  2) January  3) June  4) September  5) May

But others are much more difficult such as:

In printing an article of 48,000 words, a printer decides to use two sizes of type. Using the larger type, a printed page contains 1,800 words. Using smaller type, a page contains 2,400 words. The article is allotted 21 full pages in a magazine. How many pages must be in smaller type?

Fantastically complicated?  No, not hardly.  But how many intelligent adults do each of us know that would have difficulty solving an algebraic equation with two variables?  Ok, so the Wonderlic is no pushover but let’s not oversimplify either… a score of 6 would make him just barely smarter than your shoes. 

Ouch.  ‘Cause, you know… that’s like… damn.

Now here’s the kicker – unlike a player’s 40-yard-dash time or how many times they can bench press 225lbs under John Lott’s expert motivation; a player’s Wonderlic score is supposed to be private.  How did it leak out that our boy Vince scored a six in the first place?  And just in case you’re thinking it, put the Race Card back in your pocket: all it takes is a quick Google search to find a website where you can look up over a hundred different quarterback’s Wonderlic scores!

There’s three young quarterbacks I’d like to draw your attention to – J.T. O’Sullivan, Wes Pate, and Zak Kustok that each scored a 35 (means they’re probably pretty damn smart) on this test.  Ever hear of any of these guys?  How about Steve McNair, Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw?  Probably heard of them because they’re arguably some of the best to play that position.  Each of them scored a 15 (means they’re… well… y’know) on the test!  So, this Wonderlic is clearly no indicator of success in the professional ranks.  If it’s not a clear indicator of success or failure, and it’s supposed to be confidential anyway, then why did the information come out at all and why the hell does anybody care??

Anyone?

-E

March 10, 2006 Posted by | Observations, Sports | 1 Comment

Embracing The Hood.

The ebonics dictionary is written in pencil so, every few years when the entries are erased and re-written, if you don’t have this year’s version of the book you just might get your Ghetto Pass revoked.  I’d explain but it’s not like that… if you know then you just know.  I’ve met people that never set foot outside the Hood until adulthood.  People that were old enough to vote before ever crossing a state line.  There’s an unspoken code of honor that is revered by not leaving The Hood both physically and emotionally.

Before we proceed I should clarify.  Whether it’s the Hood, the ghetto, the PJs, the bricks, the streets, the “inner city” what the fuck ever.  Y’all know where I’m talking about.  That place where the incomes are meager and the minorities are plentiful and if you carry your shoulders too erect you might be mistaken for a cop.

I guess what I don’t understand is the appeal of bitterness?  The society that gives more street cred to someone for ‘knowing how to do a bid’ rather than for getting straight A’s or for staying out of trouble.  While there is an undeniable strength that comes from surviving impoverished, depressing conditions, allowing your environment to diminish your aspirations, I think, is insanity at it’s finest. I think it’s sort of like the opposite of being an outdoor survivalist; you know those guys that can go live off the land for days or weeks at a time?  Folks that you could hand a scout knife to, blindfold ’em, and toss ’em out of a boat somewhere and not only would they make it home in one piece but they might have a new sharktooth necklace when they get back!  The difference seems (to me) to be that the outdoor survivalists are clear that they’re doing it by choice whereas the urban survivalists are often doing it by default.  Maybe it’s not that hard to understand at all… when you don’t have a choice in the matter it’s easy to be pissed off.  Right?

What do I know about doing bids?  Not a damn thing – and if I have my way I never will know anything about it.  I blame no one but myself for the mistakes that I make or for the circumstances in my life that I have not yet changed.  I have not been killed or imprisoned, nor have I been emotionally or psychologically handicapped.  I still maintain great ambition and do not feel any sense of entitlement that would forego the need for discipline, hard work and integrity.  I absolutely, positively do not believe in feeling sorry for myself.  And after all these years I am still a certified expert at mixing Kool-Aid flavors.  As the lyric goes, I am the stone that the builder refused…

-E

March 9, 2006 Posted by | Observations, Random Ramblings | 1 Comment

The Slut, Part 2 (Why it is?)

Ok, so for starters I was all ready to begin by disagreeing with the comments that my buddy Poca left when she equated the male slut to a “gigolo” but the more I think about the more I think that technically she’s right!  So back to the dictionary again: The listing for gigolo gives you “A man who has a continuing sexual relationship with and receives financial support from a woman.” 

Are you shitting me?

Nope!  Straight from the book.  Well, it’s not really a book… I’m using Dictionary.com, but whatever.  This double-standard I want to examine apparently runs deep.  Far beneath the surface even the way these terms are defined indicates some sort of latent resentment.  Typically when you look up synonymous words you’ll find some parallels. 

Check this out: whore is synonymous with prostitute; and slut is defined as a woman prostitute.  The definitions of those three words, associated with the feminine, include the following phrases:

  1. “compromised principles”
  2. “personal gain”
  3. “solicits”
  4. “accepts payment”
  5. “sells one’s abilities… for an unworthy purpose”

Gigolo, on the other hand, is associated with the masculine and includes the following:

  1. “continuing sexual relationship”
  2. “receives financial support”
  3. “escort”
  4. “dancing partner”

Hrm.  Relationship and Support versus Compromised Principles and Unworthy Purpose?  Well, there’s clearly no bias to be found in the dictionary huh?  So picking up from Part 1 – the double-standard regarding promiscuity is, after all these years, still alive and kicking.  Even today in the age of women having prominent positions as heads of state and household and everything in between, they still risk being labeled as the town whore if they dare hook up as freely as men do. 

A friend of mine has this smoking problem.  I call it a problem because she always says she wants to quit but never actually does it.  The persistence of this double standard, I think, is alot like her smoking problem…  it’s there because we still want it there. 

This boy’s done lost his damn mind.

I’m serious!  Think about it!  When we (the powers that be, in this country) didn’t want any more “ism’s”, we outlawed them.  Pick an ism and it’s probably illegal now.  When we wanted children to stop scraping their knees when they fall down we made them wear knee pads while they bike ride or roller skate.  When we didn’t want Saddam Hussein in power anymore…  well, you get the idea. 

So why do we want to keep it?  Somehow I think our insistence on deifying women as the infallible progenitors of our species has singularly caused this system to survive for as long as it has.  If sex is a filthy, dirty act and men are such creatures to begin with then no harm can come to us sewer monkeys, but for a woman to allow herself to be defiled there’s got to be a damn good reason for it, right? 

What if that’s not it at all?  What if it isn’t about filth but instead it is a life-giving act?  the ultimate gift a woman can give to a man?  If each of us could part the Red Sea with a mere snap of the fingers then it surely wouldn’t have gone in the books as an epic tale, would it?  And who in their right mind wouldn’t be jealous, hurt, or flat-out fired up at the thought of a gift of such magnitude being given carelessly to those any of us would deem undeserving?  Whichever philosophy you subscribe to, whether Puritan or Hedonist, this culture has some re-evaluating to do.

The ‘chicken and the egg’ debate is equally tempting here but it’s ultimately pointless because a) nobody really knows and b) assigning blame would solve nothing here.  If the concept of a slut is borne from disappointment then only by changing the expectation can we be healed.  We should come to grips with the fact that you’re not angels, you’re not sugar or spice or any of that other shit… your just filthy little sewer monkeys, just like us.

Let the flames begin! 

-E

 

February 24, 2006 Posted by | Observations, Relationships | 4 Comments

The Slut, Part 1 (What it is?)

I just watched this documentary on cable called Slut; it’s a 45-minute independent film exploring the meaning and usage of the word and if you get a chance to check it out I highly recommend it. 

How long does a ‘film’ have to be in order to qualify as a movie instead of a TV show?

Good question, but let’s stay on point here.  The movie was interesting and there were numerous interviews with authors who have tackled the subject, women who had been labeled at some point in their lives, and men who, for some reason or other, could be considered knowledgeable resources.  In the process of analyzing the impact of the word they also tracked it’s first recorded appearance in the English language (post-Shakespeare) and it’s evolution from a term to describe a poor housekeeper to the term we know today.  Not all of it was useful though; I’d estimate a good 25% of the movie was just interviews with angry women who felt that being labeled a slut had in some way ruined their lives. 

Fascinating.  What was that about staying on point?

I’m coming, dammit!  While watching this I asked myself how would I define a slut and I immediately began to wonder where the threshold would lay?  I remember a girl in my 7th grade class was annointed the class slut for commiting the unforgiveable offense of reaching puberty first – the poor kid got teased to the point of tears pretty regularly!  Kids tease simply because they can, I get that part, but seriously… is there some official number at which an otherwise respectable young lady can legitimately be labeled a slut?

Thirty-seven?!?!

Shaddap.  The answer, clearly, is no.  According to Dictionary.com if a Slut is a noun for “A woman considered sexually promiscuous”, but Promiscuous is an adjective loosely defined as “Having casual sexual relations frequently with different partners”, then we are dealing with a matter of opinion.  Society hasn’t given a number and what you or I might call promiscuous would likely be deemed pedestrian by Ron Jeremy. 

But did you notice that the definition clearly stated that Slut is a noun to describe the female and not the male?  It’s long been common knowledge that a double-standard existed regarding promiscuity but did you know it’s actually in the damn book?  How is it that for all the radical changes that have taken place in American society over the past sixty years, the concept of ‘the slut’ is still going strong?  What could possibly have preserved it for all this time? 

That’s where I want to go with Part 2 later this week.  Come with me.

 -E

February 21, 2006 Posted by | Observations, Relationships | 1 Comment