Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Densha Otoko

I think it's fair to say that I'm a geek. I am and have been for a very long time. The fact that I'm somewhat sociable compared to a lot of other geeks is irrelevant. I am, and probably always will be a geek. As such, it was nothing less than a small miracle that I managed to be married for 8 years, and that I'm still on good terms with my ex. If nothing else, Lori, thank you for putting up with my ass... :-)

As I've mentioned before, I'm now a film student, so I can officially carry my audio-visual squad geek card with pride, and to make matters worse, I'm semi-obsessed with Japanese culture, perhaps the one place in a world where a geek can truly fit in. Having just [barely] passed my Japanese 214 class, I found out about a cute romantic comedy film this semester called "Densha Otoko" or "Train Man". The story is basically about a geek, with similar interests to my own, that saves a woman from a drunk guy on the train home one day, the relationship he builds with her, and the people supporting him and giving him the courage to come out of his shell. I won't say too much more about the movie other than I could completely sympathize with the film in every way possible, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in Japanese culture. I got it through Netflix, but I think I'm now going to see about getting my very own copy...!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's funny and sad...

I keep trying to leave someone alone and in peace, without even mentioning their name even on a weekly basis, but they keep trying to harass me and get under my skin. It's a shame really because I once wished the best of fortunes to this person. I recently came to understand they were moving on with their life and I was happy for them, but I just got yet another negative message from them. It's sad, really, that I'm not even the source of their anger but they won't let me live in the peace I've been giving them.

Nonetheless, I will forever pity them, and pray that they can let go of their anger. And I still wish the best for them.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Six Feet Deep" or "How's School Coming Along?"

I think I mentioned that this semester gave me a much heavier workload than the previous two semesters... If not, this should give you an idea of how bad it is:

This coming Friday I have a test in Japanese. I also have to do all remaining homework for this chapter in Japanese, which amounts to 3 workbook pages including some translating of audio clips.
Over the weekend I have to read an entire chapter on Islam and write a paper on it for Monday.
Also this weekend, I have to watch at least two Akira Kurosawa films, come up with a thesis for and write a 5 page paper for my film class for Tuesday.
Oh, and I also have to study at least the last two chapters from my Japanese book, probably more, for an oral interview I have on Wednesday.

Stressed? Me? Nah...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Just Another Day Near Chrysler's HQ

On Monday afternoon, while driving home from Oakland University, I saw a SUV with New Jersey plates that had the absolute worst paint job I had ever seen. Now, considering I know of a Dodge Ram in southern Los Angeles county that's red with tacky flames painted over every square inch of it, chrome flames placed on the windows and tire flaps, this has to be pretty bad.Think zebra, but instead of stripes, it had lots of little swirling patterns all over the entire car. I didn't really think any thing of it except that the paint job hid the shape of the vehicle pretty well because you had an urge to look away at once. I just thought someone had pretty bad taste.

But today, I realized that it was something else. It really was done to make you look away. I came to this conclusion as I drove to school today, and found myself behind a sedan painted in an extremely similar passion that I correctly guessed was getting off I-75 at Chrysler's headquarters. This one had a Michigan manufacturer's plate, and I took a picture of it from behind. I was driving so I don't have any good pictures of this vehicle, and certainly none that show it from the side, but I can say that I didn't recognize the vehicle's design. (I'll post the picture after I edit the license plate numbers out to be on the safe side.) This car may have been made by another company, but I know for sure that it's not a Chrysler/Dodge model that I'm familiar with; and I consider myself a fan of Chrysler & Dodge vehicles. Now, what I think this vehicle may be is a prototype or concept car for possible future production. It's not uncommon for new models undergoing road tests to have unusual paint jobs making them as unidentifiable as possible, but I've never before seen one that actually made the car painful to look at.

Given the chances of running into a single car with that kind of paint job are pretty slim, I'd have to say there's something more significant than bad taste for seeing two cars in the same week in the same area. Now, it is entirely possible that both are owned by the same individual, but I think the more plausible explanation is that they're new vehicle models.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


To say the least, this semester is going to be a bitch. It looks like I have writing assignments due every week, and there doesn't appear to be much opportunity to catch up... I asked for this...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Funny Moment Long Past...

About 15 years ago, during the run up for the '96 Presidential elections, I was working at a little place called Scantron Quality Computers, a relatively recently purchased addition to the Scantron Corporation. Yes, THAT Scantron Corporation. My boss at the time had gotten to be a pretty good friend of mine, and we worked with an older lady that was a little eccentric to say the least. My boss was and is a Libertarian and a vehement Harry Browne supporter and had been giving information about him to our coworker's daughter for her homework.

Now, on the day of the incident, he and I had been talking about girls all day, which celebrity women we thought were attractive, and which of our co-workers as well. Our coworker had gone to lunch, leaving us to discuss more in detail what kind of girls we like.

While I don't know what our last words were, she reappeared, more or less talking to herself, the asked "Got any Harry Browne ones?"

Tech support calls weren't answered for about an hour afterward, and much of the company came to find out what we were laughing at.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Getting Psyched Up!

It's hard for me to describe how excited and terrified I am to be going back to school in a couple of weeks. It will be the first time I've taken college classes for two consecutive school years since the mid 90s! And it will be the first time that I'll start the year with a lot of pressure riding my shoulders.

Last school year, I did well enough to make the Dean's List, as well as be invited to two separate honors societies. While no one is telling me that I have to repeat that level of performance, I'm holding myself to it because A) I'm not going to half-ass do anything, and B) I'm the one paying the bills on this college trip in the end. While Oakland University isn't the University of Michigan or Michigan State University, it sure as hell isn't cheap. (To all my California friends that complain about $26 per credit hour, lets just say I wish I had been paying that 15 years ago here in Michigan! )

I'm excited to go hang out with my school friends, learn more Japanese, and maybe to impress the Cinema Studies program director enough for him to refer me to some of the movie studios opening up here. But there's a ton of work to be done, and I'm more than ready to get started on it!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

To San Diego Brent, Stalker and Confused Reader

Brent, I'm not exactly sure why you think it's your life's mission to not only continue to harass our mutual ex, but now me... But you're obviously not over her like you claim, and I have no interest in you, your comments, your friends, or your family. Go away. Lori said it, and now I'm saying it.

P.S. I didn't even bother to read your comments. I hope you'll get the point.
P.P.S. And yes, I see that you visit my blog every day, just looking for the acknowledgment I'm now giving you. I hope it sets you free, so that you can go get the mental help you so obviously need.
P.P.P.S. You can keep posting comments, but they're going to continue to be deleted without being read. Take the hint, even if you won't get some help.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sidebar: A Word (or Thousand) on Cookies

In the beginning, circa 1969, there was the Internet. And it was good. But it lacked a lot of features and capabilities that you and I now take for granted. There were no streaming videos or music. There was no Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or Google. There was... the command prompt.

Eventually people decided that they wanted to communicate with one another on the Internet, and so the powers that be brought forth gopher, talk, and electronic mail. While these too were good, they weren't great. And so they evolved.

Many years passed until someone had the idea that communicating effectively on the Internet was too difficult, and he brought forth the Hyper Text Mark-up Language we now call HTML, and joined it with the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol we all now know and love as http (note the lowercase acronym). While He certainly brought forth the modern era of the Internet, it became forever known by someone else's name: The Web.

And it too was good.

The web allowed us to share our pictures, and our ideas rapidly, and it allowed us to do online banking, and so many other countless things, but it was flawed. In the deepest bowels of http, there was no way to keep track of exactly what someone had already done. There was no sense of... "state." You see, http is a stateless protocol; each transaction is as individual as you and I, and there was no way to be say that Bob requested a box on one page, and that Bob has a box on another in a computer understandable method.

This was bad.

Then, the Lord, our God, gave to his servants Kristol of Bell Labs/Lucent Tech and Montulli of Netscape Communications his commandment: Thou shalt write and implement RFC 2109, HTTP State Management Mechanism, and thou shalt call it "cookie" for I like cookies. (Ok, so maybe those weren't His exact words.)

The early Web Users were amazed by what could be done with cookies, and they became afraid. "What of our privacy?" they shouted. "Are you watching what I'm doing online?" they cried. And they despaired. A year or so later, they got over it, and the Web as we know it was more or less born.

But still, in this day and age, some do not understand what these cookies are! Tis true! For this reason, I shall enlighten you on this page rather than my more mundane PHP Addicts site.

In the simplest of terms, a cookie is a small amount of text information that is stored in your computer's web browser by a web site you're visiting, and is sent back to that web site when you visit either the same or different web page. Most people have noticed the benefits of a cookie without even knowing that cookies were at play. For instance, when you log into a web site, say your bank or a dating web site, they'll set a cookie containing some user account information. When you're done with the site, you typically log out, and in many cases, the web site's programmer has decided to delete the cookie at that point. Some sites, like don't necessarily delete all the cookies or all information within a cookie; that's why sometimes when you go back to them, it greets you by name and shows you information specific for you.

This is part of the reason people panicked back in the early days of cookies, and why it periodically flares up again. Cookies offer a powerful way of keeping track of your users and giving them information that pertains to them. They can also be used to cater advertisements to them, or enable other capabilities. For instance, it's entirely possible that you can stay logged in on a web site for years between visits simply because a cookie was set when you logged into it the last time. Take that dating site example I mentioned earlier: if a web programmer decided to do so, he or she could encrypt the user's unique identifier plus a  non-password check value into a bit of text and set that as a cookie on the browser, setting the cookie's expiration date to something far down the road. Then, if the user comes back to the web page at a later date, lets say 2 years for the sake of argument, they'd be automatically logged into the web site without even so much as typing their password. Now, if the user had intentionally or accidentally made that web page their browser's home page, the very action of starting their web browser would trigger the login process on that site.

This sounds like fiction, but it's actually very real. To show exactly how real it is, the major dating site sets cookies on their users' browsers to allow them to access the site without going through the log-in process unless the user logged out during their previous visit. Want another real world example? Then how about Facebook: if you don't log out of Facebook when you're done with it on a given day, it's entirely possible to remain logged in for days or weeks without visiting the site again.

How is this possible? Well, it's simple really. Part of the process of setting cookies, allows you to set an expiration date. By default, if no expiration date is set, then the cookie will expire and be deleted either when the web browser is closed or the next time it's started. That type of cookie is called a session cookie, because it lasts for one browser session. There's no limit on how far in the future a cookie's expiration date can be set. It can be a few seconds or minutes or a few decades if the web programmer chooses. The user can affect the cookie's lifetime by actively deleting it from the browser (through a variety of means), enabling a privacy mode on their browser that clears some or all cookies when the browser is closed, switching to a different browser, using a different computer, and sometimes through various software programs or operating system features, bugs, or options. In practical terms, it's not usually a benefit to set a cookie to expire more than one or two years from the time of a user's visit to a given web site because they may buy a completely new computer in that time. However, should they do that, then come back and visit your site with their old computer, the cookie may still be sitting there, unexpired, and return to active duty, automatically logging them in to that site without their permission or knowledge.

That's just the way it is with cookies. And it's good. Mostly.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tired and Lost...

Like the title says, right now I'm feeling tired and lost. I've been living more or less day to day for so long that I'm not sure how I manage to keep going at all.  I've got visions of the future I want for myself, but I'm not entirely sure it's possible for me to get there. I miss having my friends around me, I miss having a significant other. I miss my son. I also miss that part of my soul that I took for granted: the creative spark that let me write stories like a mad man.

I can still write very well, and I believe I can come up with ingenious story ideas with plots and subplots that flow so well it's hard to believe I'm making them up as I go along, but I fear that I've lost the ability to just put those ideas on paper, weaving them as they come out. It's not just because I'm out of practice, there was just a fire that I've lost some where along the way to where I am now...

Ironically, the creative talent that I fear I've lost has been replaced by programming logic I wouldn't mind losing... I've been surviving on my talents with computers for more than 10 years now, but they've never really lead me to a successful career. Just when I thought I had settled into a company I could stay with forever, Be Incorporated, they went and died on me. So I found myself floating from company to company between years of unemployment, and yet here I am working on a project that might help pay my bills if I'm lucky.

As I mentioned on my development web site, Bad Luck Software, I'm working on an Android application that will allow people to enter the price of gas at a local gas station. Yeah, that's real genius right? Well, the good part, the part that I hope people will like, is that as people enter gas prices everywhere, hopefully on a daily basis, people will be able to find the lowest gas prices in their area. And maybe, just maybe, if they find my little app useful enough, they'll donate a few dollars to support my work. Maybe.

The app is nearly done... I'm in the process of trying to link the app to the central database, and then I have a few more items to polish up. After that, I have the not so insignificant task of convincing people to use it without pre-existing data. At the moment, I have no fucking idea how I'm going to do that when I can't even get my friends and family to acknowledge that they have Android phones so they could possibly help me out... I don't want to pester anyone into using something to help me (and others) out, but I don't think I have any other choice...

I'm really tired of trying to make a better life for myself only to fail. I'm tired of being alone. I'm tired of bad shit happening to me. But I'm praying and hoping that I'm on God's path, and that on this path I'll find that place I'm supposed to be so I won't be lost any more.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Android Beta Testers & Early Adopters Needed!

Hi folks! Since I'm actually doing something for a change, I thought I'd invite you to do it with me... Wait, that doesn't sound right... Over the weekend, I had a brainstorm on an app for Android based smart phones, and I've gotten it mostly done already. Soon I'll need testing done on it, by other people than myself, to try to find bugs, improve the features and ideas in the app, and all around make it better.

If you are interested in helping out and have an Android 1.6 or higher based smart phone, you can find more information at my main development web site.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

K-PAX and Me

It's not a new movie, but K-Pax is one of my favorites. In so many ways, the film represents so many things that life is made of, and I can only imagine that the book is similarly filled. It touches on the mysteries of the universe, of life, love, tragedy, and the pseudo sciences of mental health. Yes, I called psychiatry and psychology pseudo science despite the advances of both in the last century simply because there is no magic cure all for any mental illness; each case is more like an artwork that needs to be balanced, which is sometimes impossible, other times impossibly simple.

Any way, from an acting perspective, both Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges are favorite actors of mine from earlier works. The first performance of Spacey's that I can recall being extremely impressed with was from the Usual Suspects. For those of you not familiar with U.S., I highly recommend watching it. Everyone else knows why I love the film, and in particular why I love Spacey's role.  Enough said. Bridges goes back further with me, however.  I first saw and was impressed by Bridges in Starman. Yes, it's another sci-fi flick, this time with Bridges playing an alien that created a human body from DNA taken from a hair sample of a grieving widow. Perhaps it was Bridge's ability to play a complete innocent in that film that links me to his character in K-PAX, a know it all psychiatrist that is learning to be human from someone claiming to be an alien.

I find the little details of this movie fascinating; piecing together the plot points and hints to this story is rewarding. You can easily make the case that Prot, Spacey's character, is merely insane, but much of what he does and says is makes his claims equally plausible. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is the complete lack of special effects: it's a science fiction thinker rather than thriller.It tugs at your heart and mind rather than blowing you away with dazzling 3D effects. K-PAX, in my mind, will forever be a better science fiction film than Avatar was, despite the huge difference in production costs. Hell, I'd go as far as to say it's a far better film period. (I'm not ragging on Avatar, it was nice, but it wasn't what everyone hyped it up to be.)

Even the tragic parts of the film, the murder of Robert Porter's family, touches you, as you feel the anger, sorrow, loss and despair that he did. You fully understand his loss of will to live as he wanders to the river behind his home to die.

Then the film turns around and offers hope: though Prot leaves, he seems to have taken Bess along with him. The psych ward where they've been living during the film is seemingly inescapable, so how could any one leave? Yet Bess is certainly gone, while Prot leaves behind the body of Robert Porter to be cared for by Bridge's character. That's in addition to help Prot has given to a number of patients, allowing some to go free into the world again after years of confinement.

K-PAX touches me emotionally, and despite my awareness of how and why it's doing it, it manages to do it nonetheless. That's what a good movie or story should do, and I wish there were more films like it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Geoffrey Fieger and the Death of Aiyana Jones

First, let me get a couple things out in the open. My comments in this article are my opinion, which are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, and are not fact. Second, I have a very strong bias against Mr. Fieger. Third, I have had and still do have family members that have served with the Detroit Police Department, so I do tend to be defensive with regards to the men and women in blue, though I don't make up excuses for them.

In case you haven't heard, a seven year old little girl, Aiyana Jones, was accidentally killed by a Detroit Police Officer this past weekend. If you haven't already heard of this incident, click here. The gist of the story is that DPD's S.R.T. (as the S.W.A.T. team is known here) went to the house to arrest a suspect in the murder of a high school student on Friday of last week. After the Police fired a flash bang into the house, some thing occurred that led to the discharge of an officer's weapon, killing the little girl. The facts in this case are what's in dispute, and I'm going to give my opinion on what probably happened.

Pretty much standard operating procedure for any S.W.A.T. team entering a building to arrest a suspect is to use flash bang grenades just prior to entering a home, office, or room in which the suspect may be located. The grenade, if you're not familiar with them, explodes with a great deal of light, noise, smoke and a concussive force that will stun anyone in a certain proximity to the grenade when it detonates. Beyond that, it's generally harmless. In most movies and television shows, these are usually thrown into a room, then the team goes rushing in.

Given Sunday's situation, where the team was going to have to break open a door in order to gain entry into the house, they had to put it through a window. The window is key to this whole thing, and ultimately leave Mr. Fieger with a good deal of egg on his face, which I frankly think he deserves. The window in question had a double pane of glass. The reason this is significant is that unless the officer throwing the flash bang at the window was a Major League Baseball pitcher, it's very unlikely that the grenade would have penetrated both panes of glass, and still gotten into the room on the other side in an effective manner.

Now, I'm not disputing that a flash bang was put through the window. No, not at all. I'd be a fool to say that given the circular hole that's been shown on the evening news. What I am saying is that the grenade was put through the window using an alternate delivery method. There are several different delivery methods: hand, grenade launcher, and rifle. We can rule out hand delivery in this case since the window's glass would have made it ineffective. So we're left to grenade launcher and rifle. I'm not sure which was used, but the concept of both are fairly straight-forward. A rifle or rifle-like device is used to propel the flash bang at a significantly higher speed than a person can throw it, and it penetrated the window easily.

What Mr. Fieger claims to have seen on this video tap that he can't produce is an officer firing into the house, supposedly after a smoke bomb was set off in the house. A smoke bomb wouldn't help a tactical unit like S.R.T. when trying to breach a door and secure a suspect; it would be counter productive because the suspect could easily slip out a door or window using the smoke as cover. What Mr. Fieger probably saw, but couldn't grasp, is an officer using a rifle fired flash bang which emits smoke in addition to its other effects. It crashed through the window and appeared to Mr. Fieger and possibly the camera man or woman that recorded the footage that an officer had fired a normal bullet into the house.

Mr. Fieger is probably also incapable of denoting the difference between a flash bang and the sound of a gun shot. Though it wouldn't take a flash bang long to go off, there would have been a noticeable delay between the time that it was put through the window and when it actually exploded. Given the notice, smoke, and flash that it generates, it is easy to assume for the uninitiated and uninformed that someone subsequently fired their rifle in through the window rather than the flash bang detonating. Mr. Fieger may be a worldly lawyer, but he doesn't strike me as the sort that would have any experience at all with Police or military tactics and tools, and therefore has no qualifications to say that a smoke bomb was thrown through the window and then an officer fired into the house killing the little girl from outside.

It is my further belief, that the little girl's grandmother, responding to the sound of the window breaking, probably stumbled into the room just before the flash bang went off, temporarily blinding her and certainly stunning her. It is my belief that during that time, the S.R.T. breached the door, and the woman either accidentally or intentionally interfered with the officers entering the home, pushing or pulling against a raised rifle causing it to accidentally discharge.

Given the early morning time of the incident, the shock and fear caused by the breaking window, the stunning effect of the flash bang, and the general confusion after the little girl was shot, I'm sure that the average civilian would be extremely confused and uncertain as to exactly what happened. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that they were in quite an impressionable state when Mr. Fieger spoke with them. As I stated before, I'm extremely biased against Mr. Fieger, and it's my opinion that he's a very sleazy lawyer, so I have no qualms in saying that I believe that he probably massaged the details of the family's recollections into something that he could use to slander the men and women of the Detroit Police Department and sue them.

I think the death of the girl was a tragic accident, but I can't sit here idly and not speak up against what I see as a frivolous lawsuit filed by a lawyer I believe is a grand-standing opportunist that in my opinion doesn't hold any more respect or concern for the family than any other predator. He sees an opportunity to potentially make a few dollars, either through a settlement or a anti-Police biased court, and doesn't care for the truth or whose lives' and careers he may ruin in the process. In my opinion.

In my opinion, if Mr. Fieger really wanted to help the family, he'd be trying to set up a fund to make sure that she gets buried, and possibly donate his services to the defense of the suspect, Aiyana's uncle, instead of making this an issue about money. And make no mistake, the reason he's claiming that a shot was fired from outside, and making a huge fuss over this is indeed about money rather than justice. He was no where to be found when Officer Huff was shot and killed a couple weeks ago.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Detroit Police Officer Slain, 4 Others Wounded
I take this loss personally.
Not because I knew this officer or his family, but because he sacrificed his life for me.
I take this loss personally.
Not because I am a citizen of Detroit, but because I am the son of former Detroit Police officer, and the brother of a current one.
I take this loss personally.
Not because he had to respond to a call that resulted in his death, but because he chose to.
I take this loss personally because Police officers put their lives on the line daily for us and ours, and never expect a thank you.

There has been a lot of controversy, here in Detroit if no where else, about a major news network claiming that Detroit is more violent than Beirut or some war zones around the world. It was a gross exaggeration considering that there are many other cities in this country alone that are far worse. Take Los Angeles, for example; you can't go a day without hearing about someone getting shot or killed, and it's gotten to the point that it's not even news worthy there any more. But because Detroit has long had a reputation for being a dangerous city, Detroit becomes the butt of jokes, snide remarks, and ignorant comments.

That's not to say that the city is a paradise. There are tragic accidents, such as the one near my home that took the life of a two year old girl on Thursday due to the complete negligence and stupidity of her father. And there's today's shooting that resulted in the death of one of Detroit's finest.

It's strange that while I mourn the loss of this stranger, I am angry not just at his killer, but at Mayor Dave Bing who apologized to the officer's widow. Why does this anger me? A police officer, especially one that went through Detroit's Police Academy, is trained to know and understand that they may be injured or killed in the line of duty. Rookie or veteran, they each take to the streets to do their job saving our lives, and each of them make sacrifices in terms of time they spend with their families, their career (some may be well paid, but there are certainly higher paying less dangerous jobs that they could have pursued), and potentially their lives.

You don't apologize for an officer's death because you dishonor them and belittle their memory. These officers know consciously that their lives are on the line when they go out in the streets. They are often painfully aware that their uniforms sometimes make them targets as much as they are sometimes feared for them. They choose to do their duties not out of ignorance, but out of acceptance and the desire to serve their community. This officer wasn't forced into his job, he chose it. He might not have thought he would die in the line of duty, but he was aware of the possibility. He doesn't deserve our pity or apologies, he and his family deserve our admiration and respect.

You don't apologize for an officer's death, particularly to his or her family, because they died doing what they wanted to do. They sacrificed their life for us, and there can be no shame in doing their duty. This officer and his family deserves our gratitude for his sacrifice and theirs, and his memory should be honored, not pitied. He should be remembered for his sacrifice.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

We as a People

I just finished watching Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, and I'm feeling rather pensive. Before I go and wipe this mood away with some mindless video game violence, I want to ask all of you, as a people, where did we go wrong?

It never takes me too much to generally disturb my mood or mindset, and get me thinking about something with more depth than I would prefer. As I've told others, I'm always thinking, and I can't stop thinking. Even when I'm trying to lose myself in a game, I'm thinking about something. And I'm thinking after this movie that we have gone horribly wrong.

Do the Right Thing, as Spike Lee will tell you, isn't just about the obvious messages regarding racism and violence, it's about justice, fairness, love, and hate. It preaches the words of both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and it does so without being judgmental. If you're not familiar with the film, I recommend you spend a couple of hours watching it via Netflix; it's streamable. Naturally, given that I am a Black American, you'll probably think that I'm talking about the Black community in America when I asked "where did we go wrong?". You'd be mistaken. I mean where did we, as a people, all Americans regardless of race, origin, gender, religion or sexual orientation go wrong?

I told my sister about an unusual sight earlier today. As I was on my way to a grocery store yesterday, I went down Chicago Blvd. here in Detroit, on my way to the Lodge freeway. This isn't so unusual since I've lived in this neighborhood most of my life. But what I discovered yesterday were two young white men jogging down the street. For those of you that don't live here, I suppose I need to back up a bit.

As portrayed in the media, in particular television and movies, there are two Detroits here in Michigan. When they want to show young, hip, urban people from Detroit, they typically show the "white" Detroit. They focus on the sporting events or the concerts, the big businesses like the automakers, and so forth filled mostly by Caucasians. When they want to show the violent side of things, they tend to show the burned out buildings, the vacant lots, and gangs, mostly populated by Blacks. The catch is, in reality the vast majority of the Caucasians live outside of the City of Detroit, and quite a few never set foot within the city limits unless they're passing through, going to work, or one of the aforementioned sporting or musical events. I'm not trying to say that there aren't any Caucasians in Detroit, but it is very fair to say that the population is dominated by Blacks, which can also be found at the same sporting events, concerts, and businesses. Which Detroit you see all depends on how the movie or television producer desires to portray the city.

That said, seeing to Caucasian men jogging down the street in a neighborhood that is disputably predominantly Black, is something of a rarity, especially considering the proximity to Highland Park; a traditional hot spot of danger even for those of us that live in the area. I'm telling you about this, not to state that they're stupid or foolish for being in this neighborhood, nor out of fear of a "White Plan" that involves kicking all of us Blacks out of the city so that the whites can regain power. I'm telling you this because I feel that it's a step in the right direction.

For too long, despite desegregation, Detroit has been divided. The Caucasians kept to their suburbs and looked down on us, and we kept to ourselves talking about how racist all whites were. That's not what Dr. King died for. That's not what even Malcolm X wanted. That's not how a healthy city or country can survive.

We as a people have failed to get past our old fears, our old hatreds, our old prejudices. We as a people have failed to find the Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King. We as a people as failed to evolve when it was and still is demanded of us. We as a people are dying.

Too long have we let our own foolishness divide us. Too long have we let our petty disputes wound us. If we are to heal and grow, we need to set these archaic things aside, and learn to first be kind to one another, and then eventually respect if not love one another. I know that somethings are too difficult to easily overcome, but who among us has not benefited from the labors of others, regardless of skin color or religion? How can we not remember those that have shown us the way, and how can we ignore or deny the truth before us? We are all God's children, whatever your God's name is, whatever the details of your belief!

We must learn to get along, and how to build our lives together as one people, however different and varied we individually may be, because we are indeed one people.

Find the people that hurt you, and forgive them.
Find the people you've hurt, and apologize.
Find the people you hate, and learn from them.
Find the people you love, and share with them.

I don't normally go in for chain letters and spreading them, but spread this message. We have to stop failing before we can start succeeding. Succeeding isn't easy, it never is, but we have to succeed in this.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Regarding Tiger

I've been biting my tongue on the Tiger Woods issue for months, but I can't take it anymore. Why do so many people think that he owes anyone other than his wife and family and explanation and apology for his infidelities? Just because he's a popular sports figure doesn't make him any more than a famous private individual. He has every right to privacy that any other U.S. citizen has, so I think the media and John Q. Public need to get their noses the hell out of his business. I wish he would simply answer any questions regarding this controversy with "I appreciate your curiosity, but this is a private matter between my wife and I, and I wouldn't expect anyone else to discuss the same on a global media level." After all, would you want to air out your failures on world wide television?

Because I still support him...

This may be old, but I'm still in the Obama camp...

EMBED-McCain is Barack Rolled! - Watch more free videos

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Always loved Dirk Benedict...

As a child, I watched the original Battlestar Galactica, and loved the Starbuck character played by Dirk Benedict. Years later, I loved him as Face[man] on the A-Team, especially for driving a Vette, one of my favorite cars of all time. Today, while looking up something else on IMdB, I came across the trailer for the new A-Team movie, and found it slightly intriguing, so I looked it up to see who was in it. To my surprise, I discovered that Benedict and Dwight Schultz, A-Team's Murdoch (another favorite of mine!), were at least making cameos in the film. I clicked on Benedict's name, and then on the trivia link, where I discovered the following:

On "Battlestar Galactica" (2003): Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars. Hamlet does not scan as Hamletta. Nor does Han Solo as Han Sally. Faceman is not the same as Facewoman. Nor does a Stardoe a Starbuck make. Men hand out cigars. Women 'hand out' babies. And thus the world, for thousands of years, has gone round.

Now, I'm not 100% clear on what he's saying, nor am I saying that I believe as he does, but in my opinion, it's an epic quote that deserves to be examined and considered for quite some time. :-)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Always on my mind...

Last month, I entered a contest for a house in New Mexico, and the announcement of the winner is coming up at the end of this weekend. While I know that the chances of me winning are literally 2 in 40 million, I can't seem to take my mind off of this house. Every day for the last week, I've found my mind wandering back to the house, and what I will need to look into once I take possession of the house. Not if I would take possession, but when. I've only felt this certain about winning something one other time in my life, and I did indeed win in that contest as well.

Everytime I find my mind back on this house, I have to make a strong conscious effort to squash my hopes because of the odds of me winning it are so remote. I've prayed that I would win this house, and perhaps this is God's way of telling me that it will be mine, but my realistic and pragmatic side keeps shouting at me that there's no possible way for me to win it. But despite the long odds, someone will win it, so why can't that person be me? Despite the long odds of the Mega Millions and PowerBall games (both well into the 1 in hundreds of millions range), people win those on a regular basis. So why shouldn't I take this feeling, enjoy it, and fully expect to win the house next week?

I guess the bottom line is that I'm afraid of being crushed  when the all too probable outcome is revealed: that I didn't win it. Still, the house lurks in the corners of my mind, waiting to rise to the surface of my thoughts and pose questions of details regarding it: will I need to buy a security system or did  the builders already include one? Does the community have a swimming pool, hot tub, and fitness center nearby that I could use? What about internet service? Would the neighborhood association mind if I try growing an avacado tree on my property?

It's these questions that bother me the most, I guess. I've never really posed these questions about a house or apartment before. No part of my mind in the past ever dwelled on questions like these before I moved into a new residence, or even when I was looking for one. These questions are the sort that a home owner would ask when he or she has made arrangements through a realtor and has not actually laid eyes on the home themselves. These are questions I would expect someone to ask after they won this house.

Well, God willing, I will win this house, justifying my mind's obsession with it. Otherwise, I can only imagine that I'll be mentally crushed for weeks. If I win, you'll be the second to know... ;)

Monday, February 1, 2010

I HATE Black History Month

The title of this article says it all, but I'm going to explain why I hate Black History month.

I guess the simplest reason is that ideally, it seems unnecessary. In an ideal world, our (African Americans, and their descendants, Black Americans) contributions to history should be recognized along side those of European Americans (White Americans), and we all should be learning about the complete history of our country throughout school and our lives. In reality, we are multiple cultures fused at some points where overlap occurs, and told to ignore those inconsistencies. Growing up Black in Detroit, a city whose population predominantly Black despite what you see in movies and on TV, I've been exposed to countless bits of Black history on a regular basis. I've been to museums featuring African American artwork and historical items, taught all about a lot of the Black historical figures and been told how important my ancestors were to this country. Not just in February, but through out the year.

Now, I don't know what is taught in other communities, and especially in predominantly White communities, but I somehow doubt that the same level of attention was given to Black history. Sure, I expect that the major figures were covered: Malcom X, Martin L. King, Jr., perhaps George Washington Carver, but what about Harriet Tubman, the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen and all the others? Even if they are taught, during Black History Month, they're taught out of context: our hundreds of years of history in this country is consolidated and taught during a one month period, without being placed along side their contemporary events in this country and the world. In my opinion, this month trivializes those individuals; it reduces them to a once the year footnote that is not treated with the same reverence and importance as the rest of American history.

And what's worse is the big deal that the media, here in Detroit at least, and some others seem to make out of it. I can't go one day in February without hearing about Black History Month and yet still watch television. It just makes me feel that I'm being thrown a bone to acknowledge that my people were important to this country too.

I'd much rather to have been taught, and one day to have my kids be taught African American history as part of American history.

But you know what makes me feel even worse? The fact that I'm sitting here complaining about Black History Month when the Native American people don't even get that much acknowledgement. There's no Mexican American history month either, and God knows I haven't seen the same for Chinese Americans, Indian (as in India) Americans, or Japanese Americans either.

I don't feel this country can be truly united until we fully integrate our combined histories. America was once called the melting pot, where we all became equals, but I'd say that despite our progress we're still pretty far apart.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ahh, the Nexus One...

By now, you've probably heard of the Nexus One, and maybe heard too much. I want one, but Google and T-Mobile seem to want me to wait 10 months. While I'm about 99% certain there will be an even more awesome phone in that time, the Nexus One is the one I want.

Let me start from a little earlier in the story. Ever since Android was announced, I've kept an eye on it because it was a pretty cool concept, and there were certain things I wanted to do on my cell phone. Oh, and I MIGHT be able to write some programs that someone would be willing to spend money on.

So when the G1 came out, I decided that I would invest in one when my Verizon Wireless contract expired, which happened at the end of 2008. Frankly, I prefer Verizon by far, but at the time they were not Google or Android friendly, so I got my G1.

The purpose was two fold: first, I needed a new cell phone, and second, I needed a phone I could use for development. So it was an investment.

The G1 is a pretty decent phone overall, and even though it's kind of dated compared to the Droid and Nexus One, it functions pretty well. I wasn't and still am not particularly tempted by the Droid, but the Nexus is another story.

My only fear with the Nexus is the lack of a physical keyboard, but I'm more than willing to give the on screen keyboard and voice recognition a chance. But the big thing for me is going to be the fact that it will most definitely get Android's latest updates as they become available.

You see, the G1 apparently has a tiny amount of space for the operating system which seems to be preventing it from getting the official 2.0 update despite many rumors. If I'm going to be serious about doing Android development, I will need a 2.x capable phone.

Then there's the recent problems my G1 has been having. It started Thanksgiving weekend, when my phone suddenly started acting weird and certain features were suddenly either missing or malfunctioning. They seemed to be cured with a factory reset that caused me to lose some no longer available apps. Then the G1 started experiencing new problems, such as locking up while the screen was off. The weird thing about that was that the screen wouldn't turn on at all, and I couldn't shut the phone off either. The keyboard backlight turns on if the screen is slid open, but it's useless. Sometimes the notification lights would still be blinking, but the only thing you could do was pull the battery and restart the phone. This didn't happen often, but it was irritating.

So after weeks of hearing about the Nexus One, I asked T-Mobile if it would be possible to extend my contract to 2 more years in exchange for the Nexus at the discounted price. I did this before the official announcement, and was told theoretically that I could. When Tuesday rolled around and the announcement was made, I checked the online orderr system to see if it would allow me to do it, but it wouldn't. It didn't matter at the time any way, because I didn't yet have the money. Today, however I came into the money (through non-nefarious means) to pay on a bill and get the phone, so I called up T-Mobile to try to arrange it.

And I was told that because I wasn't qualified for the normal upgrade routine that I could call Google at a certain number to get the partial discount price. Fine, I called that number, which turned out to be HTC (the manufacturer), who told me that they had nothing to do with it. They connected me back to T-Mobile who then explained that I would have to wait until I was qualified for the upgrade in 10 months.

In rare moment of clarity, I realized what I could do, and I asked about the early termination fee on my existing contract. The lady told me that it was $200, which when combined with the cost of the Nexus One on a new plan was still less than the cost of the unlocked version by more than $100. Since that was a lot of money, I decided to hold off and think about it.

Then my G1 locked up again today, and I made up my mind. If it were just another random lock up, I might not have minded, but on Wednesday, my G1 developed another new and serious issue: while it would make outgoing calls just fine, it would send all incoming calls to voice mail before I could answer them (less than 2 seconds). So between these two problems, and today's lock up coming at precisely the time I was considering my options, I decided on investing in the Nexus One, and ordered it. In all likelihood, I'll contact T-Mobile and ask to get a replacement G1 due to these issues, and cancel that line in a few days or weeks.

Hopefully no one else has to jump through the same hoops I did, but I suppose the bottom line is that I'm getting what I wanted.

Update (1/9/2010 3:12pm) : Despite the disclaimer that it would take up to 72 hours ship the phone out when it has been inscribed (as a free option), my phone actually shipped out last night... The very same day I ordered it! And given that there's free overnight shipping, I'll be receiving my phone on Monday! A full 2-3 days earlier than I was expecting it! Thank you Google!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Who gives a QUIZ on the first day of class?!?!

Ok, so today is my first day of school for the Winter 2010 term, and my very first class was my Art History 100 class. Now, I've taken a lot of classes over a lot of years, but I've never had to take a quiz on the very first day of class before today! Now, I'm aware that there's a quiz in my Japanese class on Friday, my second day of class, as a review of last semester, but how is it possible that someone actually thought it would be a good idea to have a quiz on the first day of class of a 100 level course?

In my professor's defense, the order came down from above, and this waws intended as a practice quiz so we students know what to expect, and for them to know where we are in terms of knowledge of the subject, but damn that was uncool.

Any ways, now that it's over, I'll be prepared next time...