When I first began to think about blogging way back in 2004 I thought of a regular column I briefly wrote for The Independent Florida Alligator back at U.F. during my undergraduate days in the 1980s. It was called "From Within The Veil" and it played off of one of our African American intellectual heroes, W.E.B. DuBois. I've changed since those days, and so has the world. I still love W.E.B. DuBois, but I lament his lack of faith in the black masses, in particular, and his fellow Americans, in general. I lament how easily and deeply he was led astray by Europeans who could only see ethnic groups of folks from around the globe  through their local lens (this applies to all of us) and  also could only imagine a world that moved forward, willingly or unwillingly, toward their understanding of utopia. That second point does not apply to all of us. It does apply however to communism, Marxism, and it most definitely applies to the brand of Islam practiced by the Osama bin Laden crowd.
When re-creating From Within The Veil via blogging, I settled on prefacing the columns with something of an explanation that would ground the reader in my current understanding of things earned through years of shouldering unexpected responsibilities, failing to do so with others that should have been shouldered, disappointing myself in numerous ways, and meeting my personal standard in many, many others. So, here is the current preface:
W.E.B. DuBois said the problem of the 20th Century would be the problem of the color line; solidly within the color line in the culture of the United States stands African Americans, obscured from view by something similar to a veil -- those within are visible behind that veil, but precisely how clearly? Those within obviously see beyond that veil, but again . . . exactly how clearly? I believe the challenge of the 21st Century will prove to be the same as the challenge of the 20th Century (the color line) but with this distinct difference: the "special" burden presented by the challenge and that burden which must be shouldered will no longer be on those from without the veil. No, the special burden in the 21st Century will be on those of us within the veil. As it should be.
Invoking his experience in moving beyond hatred towards Germans over the Holocaust, Chetwynd argues that "contextualizing" Rev. Wright's hatred was a misuse of a "teaching moment." The teaching opportunity consisted of "not explaining Wright’s outrage to me, but explaining his outrageousness to him." That's because "we’ll reach the post-racial era . . . by no longer justifying ourselves with what was, instead speaking to what now exists. Not deny the past, but recognize that’s what it is: past."
Obama, of course, took the opposite view, citing Faulkner's quote that “the past isn’t dead and buried; in fact, it isn’t even past.” Obama/Faulkner may be correct at some level; more likely there is no correct answer, it's just a matter of outlook. But I think Chetwynd has the better of the argument when it comes to which outlook is more likely to yield a post-racial future. He may also have the better case when it comes to which outlook Americans are looking for in an African-American presidential candidate.
Absolutely. And that outlook is the only way forward. The Faulkner stuff is where Obama and his people tried to get too clever by half, in my honest opinion, by daring to invoke Mississippi's own William Faulkner. In doing so, they use a line from a book (Requiem For A Nun) published in 1951.
Think about that: 1951!
This betrays a frozen-in-time stasis but not the one pre-supposed by the Obama campaign. How so? Here is the too clever by half component. According to a publication at Ole Miss discussing the line and the book (and, no, I haven't personally read the book), here's the deal with those famous words:
Spoken by Gavin Stevens near the end of Act I, Scene III, this passage is without a doubt the most-quoted line in all of Faulkner, though it is usually used in support of southern traditionalism or other ideas contrary to its original purpose. In the novel, the line refers to how an individual’s past acts continue to resonate in and shape the present. The scene depicts the wrangling between Temple Drake (wife of Gowan Stevens) and attorney Gavin Stevens (Gowan’s uncle) over why Temple wishes to save the life of Nancy, Stevens’client, who has been sentenced to death for killing Temple’s child
The line is used most often "contrary to its original purpose."
Given that my thesis regarding the continuing problem of the color line has seen a shift in terms of what parties must bear the burden of that existential problem, and taking into account Chetwynd's wonderful letter to Obama, doesn't that render the line even more thought provoking?
Obama wanted to shift that Faulkner line into a group burden placed on America, in general, and white Americans, in particular. But he, as is the case with most northern white liberals, has it all twisted. Read most honestly, and without the constricting limitations of race-determinism, Obama is in fact the modern target of that line. He is the individual (and, most especially, Reverend Wright) whose past acts continue to resonate in and shape the present. By extension, black liberation theology (in particular) and African Americans (in general), are the further targets -- not white Southern culture, in particular, or America, in general.
This is the universalism that makes Faulkner great but I've long since given up expecting northern white liberals to be able to grasp this context. The audacity of Obama to use that line to "preach" to the country about race is, quite simply, too juicy to pass up.
Chetwynd closes the open letter with this beautiful flourish:
You say you are devoted to Reverend Wright because he brought you to Christ. I can only imagine how powerful a relationship that forges. But, my imperfect understanding of the Christian Faith tells me you can do him an equally magnificent service: You can help bring him back to Christ. Show him redemption and salvation lie not in the satisfaction of doing little dances in a pulpit while you slander good and decent people. Teach him that great leadership and Christian love abjures the very filth – and I pick that word deliberately – that he spews on an apparently regular basis. After all, Senator, you know our government did not invent the HIV virus to kill African-Americans. You know, Senator, this is not the United States of KKK America. You know the truth of 9/11. At least you should. Both you and Michelle have benefited mightily from the new spirit that has come to America in the last two generations. I thought you were part of that. I thought you were post-racial.
But in your silence, in your justifications, in your facile instruction to contextualize, you seem just a more presentable version of those dreary self-promoters, Sharpton, Jackson, Bakewell and the rest. Surely this is not you. Please, Senator, be brave. Lead. From a position of honesty where context is our daily reality, not drawn from bitter memories, no matter how justified they once might have been. Deny Jeremiah Wright your comfort of “context”. Be Presidential. To all Americans.
Left to his own devices, I suspect that Barack Obama could and would see this. I may be giving the man too much credit, and I may be too hard on his wife (I suspect she is the party that led him to Jeremiah Wright and has kept him in that church), but my instincts tell me that he knows the truth of the matter I'm asserting in this post.
I like to venture far afield at times and review the websites of folks who at some distant point in the past may have grabbed my curiosity at times. Robert Scoble is one such person. On his Scobleizer website, he recently listed these reasons to explain why the secret of Twitter (a micro-blogging technology tool that allows users to send character-limited updates known as tweets related to what they're doing, discussing, or reading, etc.) is not how many folks follow you via that tool but, conversely, how many folks you follow. In Scoble's opinion:
1. Getting followed just means you’re popular. Yes, that’s cool, but
it hardly will make you interesting. Paris Hilton will have more
Twitter members than I will, when she joins.
2. Getting followed a lot might mean you’re using it for a publishing
system. If all you have is followers what makes that different from
owning a newspaper, a radio station, a TV station, or, even, a Web
site? Hint: nothing.
3. If you’re just trying to get followed you’re probably just needing attention or you might be Jason Calacanis.
But what does following a lot of people say?
1. You’re trying to learn more.
2. You’re trying to meet more people.
3. You’re trying to be a better listener.
4. You’re communicating to the world that you’d like to be listened to (golden rule: treat people how you’d like to be treated).
5. You’re trying to find out about more stuff. More events. More stories.
Now, who would you rather hang out with? A person who only talks and
doesn’t listen? Or a person who listens to as many people as he can?
Listen to as many people as you reasonably can, of course.
But . . . so many technological revolutions, so little time to get acquainted. It's hell getting old! And although I'm sure I'll be something of a fish out of water, I've taken the plunge and signed on. You can find me at this link:
I'm hopeful I can take the time tomorrow (Wednesday) and play with it a little bit. I thought I was going to be attending to family business in Tampa for the next few days but that has been delayed for a couple of days at least.
Tallahassee - Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer today released the following statement to regarding Florida Democrats’ misleading rhetoric on the Florida primary:
“FDP Chairman Karen Thurman has recently been seen in the national media deceiving Floridians and the nation. It’s time to set the record straight since the Democrats obviously wish to rewrite history and distort the facts. Here are the facts: Florida Democrats co-sponsored the bill moving the primary forward. They voted for it unanimously. Later, when they realized that they were disenfranchising 1.7 million Democrats by ignoring the official state primary held on January 29, they scrambled for a political strategy and couldn’t find one.
“Governor Charlie Crist demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that every vote cast by Floridians counted, by offering to allow the state to verify the signatures in order to ensure the integrity of a mail in revote, but the Democrats turned him down. Furthermore, I as Chairman of the State Republican Party, did not oppose at any time efforts to ensure that a revote counted.
“Though it is unfortunate that Karen Thurman would say that the Governor did nothing to help, it is certainly not surprising—she and Howard Dean want Florida voters to forget that Florida Democrat leaders supported the early primary and deflect focus off of their failure to provide leadership in resolving this issue.
“It’s obvious that Karen Thurman continues to be frustrated about the facts getting in her way. The facts are this: the Florida and National Democrat Parties have ignored voters in Florida and if they continue down this path they will disenfranchise Florida voters from the process of choosing the next President of the United States.”
Below, Democrats in their own words support the early primary regardless of the DNC's penalties:
Dan Gelber, House Democratic Leader
“Lawmakers supporting the move -- including House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, and House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach -- downplay the risk of being punished.” (Orlando Sentinel, 01/26/07)
“Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, the House Democratic leader, said Democratic National Committee ChairmanHoward Dean called him to say the move could have consequences…Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman also sent the House committee members a letter warning them not to push the primary any earlier than Feb. 5. ‘I don't have any constituents in the DNC,’ Gelber said. ‘I only have constituents in my district. They would like to be more relevant.’” (Sun-Sentinel, 02/09/07)
"This part of the problem is echoed by House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, who is backing Mr. Rivera's bill [to move up the Florida Primary to January 29] in part because he represents ‘a lot people who would like to be in the primary journey as more than just potential contributors.’” (Tallahassee Democrat, 02/12/07)
“‘We'd have a national cat fund right now if we had an early primary,’ state House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber said. (Tampa Tribune, 03/07/07)
“Supporters say the change would give Florida a stronger and earlier voice in the primary system while forcing candidates to take stands on issues that matter to Floridians, like a national catastrophe fund to help cover costs of hurricanes and other natural disasters. ‘We have a duty to the rest of the country to be in this process from the beginning,’ said Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, a Sarasota Democrat and political science professor. ‘I think our voters don't want to be left out.’” (St. Petersburg Times, 02/09/07)
“But those concerns were largely drowned out by their enthusiasm for making Florida an even bigger player on the national political stage. ‘There will be very little opposition in the entire state, I think,’ said Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood.” (Orlando Sentinel, 02/09/07)
Jeremy Ring, Democratic State Senator and Co-Sponsor
“‘If (DNC chairman) Howard Dean thinks the candidates are not going to campaign in Florida, he's got to be insane - not with all the Florida money at stake,’ said state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, sponsor of the early primary bill.” (St. Petersburg Times, 04/28/07)
Mark Bubriski, Florida Democratic Party Spokesman
“Florida Democrats are all for [moving the primary up],’ Mark Bubriski, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, said at the time.” (The St. Petersburg Times, 10/07/07)
Karen Thurman, Florida Democratic Party Chair
“State Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman agreed. ‘I don't see any downside to it,’ she said.” (Tampa Tribune, 11/30/2006)
Sorry, gang, but it looks as though y'all are going to have to own this situation.
I probably couldn't have said it better myself but Jules Crittenden gets the credit for this Pajamas Media piece:
Geraldine Ferraro, with the good grace to acknowledge that her own place on the 1984 ticket was due to gender, stated that Obama would not be where he is if he were not black. It’s a fair point that has been obliquely remarked upon in various quarters, but generally a point no one wants to make a big deal out of. After all, look what happened to Bill Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro when they went near that third rail. They were denounced as racists. Bill was shoved in a closet till it blew over [RattlerGator: actually, black people were outraged because Bill, of all people, transparently used "aren't you scared of the spook" scare tactics in Carolina -- I don't think a discussion of race, per se, was the problem in Carolina although I admit this may be a distinction without much meaning]. Ferraro [RattlerGator: who addressed the issue directly] was shown the door.
Race — for all the advances that have been made in the United States, the leading nation on Earth in aggressively addressing its atrocious history of race relations — is a subject that cannot be openly discussed in this country. The fact that one of the least-experienced candidates in the race … and that itself is no mean accomplishment given the field … with the most insubstantial message, has attracted attention from the start because he is a charismatic black man [RattlerGator: I admit to being a bit puzzled by this; what is charismatic about Barack? I know of very few in the black community who find him charismatic] is a fact that must not be stated. Instead, the pretense must be maintained that the United States is colorblind and for better or worse, race has nothing to do with it. He’s just likeable, and offers hope. You may state that he offers hope because he is black, but you may not state that he has arrived at a position of prominence in the race for that reason, or even that it may prove a hindrance. The racial element of heavy support for Hillary Clinton by blue-collar Democrats in Ohio, for example, was reported on by the Associated Press as a reaction to Obama’s strong support among blacks, rather [than] the fact that he is himself a black man. [RattlerGator: this is what appears truly bizarre to me]
It’s not clear how anyone can transcend racial prejudices, racial preferences and the full range of racial issues when an open discussion is not allowed, but the political party that claims the mantle of the civil rights movement has deemed it so, and there seems to be general agreement in the larger society [RattlerGator: for now], so there we are. Speech may be free. But this speech is forbidden.
Pretty much right on the money, Jules.
This opinion piece is representative, I think, of the ability to have what we presume is a national discussion but talk past one another during the process. It happens, of course, with Democrats and Republicans all the time. But it also occurs between black folks and white folks, etc.
Does it matter that black folks don't find Barack Obama to be charismatic? No, because white folks apparently do -- the idea of Barack Obama, I should say -- and that is clearly driving the train. Does it matter that Obama's mother is white? Now here is where we begin to touch on something truly weird: it doesn't seem to matter to black folks but I think it truly does matter to white folks.
And I think white folks would steadfastly deny this.
The fact that she is safely dead, in my opinion, matters to the entirety of his supporters because she could be truly problematic if still alive. I hope that doesn't leap off the page in the wrong way but we, as human beings, are very visual people with a discriminatory instinct that has been historically crucial to our survival as a species. This instinct can have strange applications in the modern world (if Barack looked white, instead of black, I doubt if we would know who the hell he is) but we can't discount our instinctive reliance on our visual inputs. Michelle Obama may have fatally injured Barack Obama's campaign for the Presidency and I suspect that Michelle is very much like his mother in temperament.
Race and gender. White mother, black son. There's much more to come, I'm sure. For instance, Dave Winer posted recently about northeastern racism; make of it what you will, but that could be a long national conversation that would trail off into many unintended directions. One of Winer's commenters, Tiffany D. Brown (a self-described Kucinich-type) made some interesting points with respect to the comments of Geraldine Ferraro and what they mean:
I think you're right Dave [RattlerGator: his opinion was that Ferraro represents a very familiar form of paternalistic racism he witnessed often while growing up in the New York City area]. But I decided to cut GF some slack when she said that  her gender was the deciding factor in the 1984 VP candidacy. It's not that she couldn't have done the job, she said, but she was chosen over other people *because* she was a woman.
Now where GF hangs herself with the rope the media handed her is that she doesn't concede or acknowledge that Hillary is also where she is because *she's* a woman and because, frankly, we still like Bill. GF then buried herself with the Oppressed White Person Defense [RattlerGator: did she really bury herself? Reverse racism is not a theoretical construct in the minds of many white folks. Whether it's applicable here or not is not the point. The issue is unavoidable, no matter what people say in polite company].
But think about it: neither Clinton nor Obama are radical change-bringers. You could make the case that they're the black male and the white female version of John Edwards (and I'm still not clear on whether Obama has a foreign policy and what that policy might be). They're really both quite moderate and unremarkable in terms of policy.
But there is a whole lot remarkable about Obama's blackness and Hillary's gender. And I think Democrats are caught up in how cool that would be. I know I am though in terms of policy, I'm much more in line with Kucinich.
That's not to say that Obama (or Clinton) is *un*qualified or even *less* qualified. It is to say "put 6 Democratic candidates in a bag and 5 would make a good president." Where Obama and Hillary have an edge is that *physically* they look different from presidents 1 - 43.
And sometimes that's what a country needs.
I think that captures the mindset of the Democrat primary voters, doesn't it? And it makes the point Jules discussed, doesn't it? You have the most liberal voting record in the Senate, but you're not a "change-bringer"? In fact, you're quite moderate! You want to sit down with the leaders of the axis of evil, but you are unremarkable in terms of policy?
Most incredible, however, she seems to completely buy into the idea that the mere fact of them physically looking different from their predecessors in the office is what the country needs.
I'm always amazed at this train of thought and the usual inability of proponents to flip the script and analyze the acceptability (or lack thereof) of any exactly opposite mindset.
In addition to the online collaboration, the tool offers an embeddable,
simple flash-based slide show player, which I'm using here.
Let me know what you think.
I thought it was very interesting and wanted to present it here:
Not bad, not bad at all. Also, the two initial links in this post are worth reading in their own right and (in my estimation) fit within the four corners of this post. For example, this was the comment by Dunphy that originally grabbed my attention:
I'm a print journalist who's been pulled out of his newsroom (www.thespec.com) to launch and manage my chains WebU, a digital and web technology training center we're putting our entire news and advertising staffs through for a week apiece.
I couldn't agree more - newspapers online need to shake off their print shackles and understand the powerful attraction a river of news has for readers - and advertisers (repeat visits throughout the day).
But I'd add a couple of important wrinkles.
What I've really been struck by is the realization that online news is a LOT more like radio than print. It lives in time as well as space on the web "page". Carry the world's news and local news as it happens - get it into that stream as quickly as you can - but that accounts for only maybe 1/3 of the stories told by the average news staff. The rest - the features, the columns, the how-to's , the recipes, the advice columns, the editorial cartoons - should be prorgrammed throughout the day to meet readers needs as they change during the day.
First thing in the morning, I want the weather, maybe traffic. I want to know what's happened over night that I should now about. Equip me to walk out that door. But my lunch time, maybe I want something more entertaining, diversionary. By 3pm I might be looking for what to do that night, or what to cook etc.. The stream changes as the day grows old. AND I'd not only thread conversations and comments from readers with the relevant story - I'd pull the best and drop them into the stream along with the journalists work.
It seems like such a simple, obvious, easy to maintain, model. On top of that you can offer customization, feeds etc. I'd tag each item for search and retrieval purposes and I'd give it a specific kind of shelf life in the main stream (3 hours? 4?) before it flows off the page and drops into the "News Museum" - a daily, sorted archive that would look remarkably like most of the damn dead online news sites look like right now.
That's an insight -- online news is a lot more like radio than print. True, true, true. Best of all, it sounds like a winning business model.
Unfortunately, the Gator Basketball program ran into a perfect storm this year. Youth + softness + lack of physicality = losses. The basketball gods have exacted their revenge and I'm happy with the exchange. Two titles in a row, and then having to deal with the frustration that comes from this type of season? I'll take it.
There is a player from our two championship seasons who should serve as something of a proxy to help explain what happened to us this year. His name is Lee Humphrey. An outstanding player out of Tennessee, he wasn't blessed with the greatest athletic ability or height. In other words, his physicality was lacking. Nevertheless, he came into our program and developed his defensive ability each year he was at Florida. That guy fought like hell against the very same type of athletes we saw hurt us this year time after time. Yes, Lee was helped by the great talent around him but he clearly pulled his own weight. But it pretty much took two years in the program for him to do it.
That means our off-season strength and conditioning program is going to help this young team of ours, no doubt. But increasing their basketball I.Q. is going to help, too. On this point, I am especially hard on Nick Calathes because (it seems to me) so few in our fanbase appear eager to take a critical look at him but when our offense would fall flat this season, I would look first to Nick -- not to Marreese. Unfortunately a true freshman, he was the one primarily responsible for setting up our offense and many teams took advantage of that fact this season. But it was his defense that was the serious liability for us. Early in the year I offered an opinion that our guards had a particular problem. My "no hops, no quicks, no strength" critique of he and Jai was applicable to their overall games but was most glaring on defense.
As an all-around point guard, Nick was clearly in over his head this season. Not surprising for a freshman who would have to lead a flawed basketball team. As a basketball player, however, he was our second best player. Marreese was clearly our best. But Marreese was also just as soft as Nick and therein lies our problem. Everywhere you looked on this team, there were mixed-matches in terms of what we needed (basketball-wise) as opposed to what our players could deliver based on their natural disposition.
Unfortunately, the FSU game early in the season told the tale. This last Bama game reinforced it.
But I'm not going to allow myself to forget how hard this team fought against Tennessee (both times), how they blew out Vanderbilt in the O-Dome and were in position to steal the game in Nashville.
But the scouting around the conference, not our players running into some physical and mental wall, exposed our severe weaknesses and our freshmen were not subsequently able to elevate their games enough to overcome that scouting. Neither could Marreese.
End result? We're out of the tournament, conference and national. Oh, well. The piper must be paid; this frustrating season is our payment. I agree with the sentiment of some Gator fans already being expressed around Gator Nation: thank God Anthony Grant wasn't coaching us this year because all manner of fools would be killing him right now and going on and on about how *he* was in over his head.
Yes, Nick Calathes, I recognize that I resemble one of those fools for my critique of your outstanding play this season. But I've not criticized Calathes as a basketball player -- he's obviously excellent -- but point guard is a special job and especially tough to handle efficiently.
Finally, the future is bright, our coaches will get this situation corrected, and next year we start another tournament streak.
I'm one of those people who has loved "The Wire" and could never understand why it wasn't placed on the same level as The Sopranos when -- in my opinion -- it was clearly their equal. Last Sunday night was the final episode of the show and I was stuck out in the Carolina Lowcountry with no access to HBO.
Now that I'm finally back home, Comcast and HBO On Demand allowed me the pleasure of seeing the finale without it being spoiled by others around me who had already viewed it. I was pleased with the finale and a random search on the internet proved to me that most other fans were too.
Why did I love the show so much? Well, it showed real characters from the black community in an unvarnished kind of way and without some ridiculous sentimentality. It didn't show the black community, it showed a slice of it in a realistic way. I appreciated that, artistically.
I also have a couple of tenuous links to Baltimore that first drew me to the show. Most relevant was a consulting job I used to have. The firm I worked for specialized in doing disparity studies. These were compare and contrast analyses of a defined business market (city, region, state, etc.) from the perspective of available minority businesses and some city or state governmental unit.
One important contract we won was for the City of Baltimore. The minority business office in that city, our sponsoring agent, would have fit perfectly in The Wire. The city council, and I mean the real deal, would have fit perfectly on The Wire. I had a city official in essence tell me, to hell with the United States Supreme Court and their rulings on affirmative action, set-asides, etc.
This was 1999: I knew then, I was in the wrong "bidness" and needed to make a change. Baltimore's housing department was under FBI review, there were political shenanigans going on all over the place, and the entire minority set-aside scene was a game that rewarded gamesmanship rather than any modicum of competence.
Naturally, with this background, The Wire conceptually worked for me. Beyond that, however, the writers and actors collectively brought to life characters that you genuinely cared about. Positively and negatively. I read a good wrap-up by Jonathan Toomey at The TV Squad; you would have to read the entire piece (and the comments) to really capture the flavor of the show and the finale. However, these passing thoughts from Toomey give you a sense of just how many characters [by the way, for a snapshot of the incredible number of characters via their headshots, check this out] were successfully worked into the show and how much people cared about them. The list could be much longer:
Dukie. Sad. I still can't figure out why Prez gave him any money though. By the way he handled his new students, Prez isn't a fool now. I suppose he wanted to believe Dukie had a chance, but all it took was one look. Donnelly saw it and wouldn't let him into the school. I think what surprised me the most was that Dukie didn't even try to hide it and run with his lie of getting a GED. Prez gave him the money and Dukie just walked off with the arabber to go and shoot up. The new Bubbles. Again, sad.
On the flip side, the original Bubbles finally got redemption via Fletcher's front page story. It seemed that something public like that is what it took for Reginald's sister to see that his rehabilitation was real. She let him upstairs. He's finally out of the basement -- in more ways that one.
For those that are curious, the title of the episode "-30-" is journalistic slang for "the end." It refers to the practice of ending telegraph transmissions with XXX, aka "30."
This episode's quote refers to what H.L. Mencken thought the job of being a newspaper reporter was: the life of a king.
We never really found out precisely what was in Cedric's file, other than his involvement with the Eastern vice squad and the missing money. What was his link? He was willing to resign over it to help Marla and Rhonda keep their jobs so it must have been huge. I say that because despite his anger for McNulty and Lester and what they did, he said he still cared about them. He had dirt too and wasn't that much better of a person if you look at it that way. Why air out your own dirty laundry when you can just make a clean break?
Great to see Lester show up with Chardene at the "wake." I was hoping he'd hop on the felt with Jimmy though.
Jimmy had a great line when Landsman was pressing him about the manpower and the lack of work: "I can't make shit up, can I?" And Jay had a great one at Jimmy's wake when he said if his body was ever on a corner, he'd want Jimmy to work it. A true compliment.
When Rawls and Daniels both confronted Jimmy in the interrogation room, I was really expecting Rawls to whip up both his middle fingers and say "these are for you McNulty," just like in the pilot episode.
Do you think Levy realized that it was Herc that leaked Marlo's number? I'm thinking yes. By doing that, it really did earn Levy some serious street credit. He got Marlo off because of what Herc started and Levy must have put two and two together since his Rolodex was the only place Marlo's number was written down.
Anyone else catch David Simon's quick cameo in The Sun newsroom?
I'm glad Kima came clean with Lester and McNulty. I was surprised Lester forgave her so easily though. If she had kept quiet, he and Jimmy would still have jobs and they could be working to fight Levy and keep Marlo in jail. That's worth being a little bitter about I'd say. Then again, Lester was drunk. And he did accomplish a lot. No sense in holding a grudge.
What a great show.
I think my only real complaint (if that's what it is) was the writer's apparent need to have redeeming gay characters. Omar, one of the heroes of the show and a fabulous character, was a weird Robin Hood from the streets. Snoop was another fabulous character -- has any woman ever played a role like that on television? And she played herself, kinda sorta? Damn! And dear ole Kima the cop; another lesbian character graced with something of a good, positive role. Even their lovers were portrayed sympathetically. That was just a bit too much for the kid.
But that's a small quibble, it seems to me, when discussing a Hollywood production. To David Simon and crew, job well done. For the record, I think my favorite characters were Stringer Bell, Bubbles, Brother Mouzone, Proposition Joe, Omar, Butchie, Snoop, Bunk, Lester Freamon -- hell, I loved them all. Not the least, Clay "Shee-eet" Davis. I'll never forget the Monday after the second-to-last episode aired. There I was, settling down in my chair, clicking on my On Demand menu, scrolling to HBO, and making my way to The Wire -- all excited about watching the final episode one week in advance. As I had practically the entire last season of shows.
I click on the activation and just what the hell do you think greeted me?
That damn Clay Davis, delivering his famous "shee-eet" to the fool who was silly enought to think he was actually going to be allowed to watch the finale early. I laughed my ass off. At myself, and at the creators of the show.
I'm gonna really miss y'all. Executive producer, creator and writer David Simon prominently dispalyed this quote from H.L. Mencken in the lobby of the Baltimore Sun (a paper for which he previously worked):
"...As I look back over a misspent life, I find myself more and more convinced I had more fun doing news reporting than in any other enterprise. It is really the life of kings."
Nice sentiment, but it belongs to the 20th century. It certainly appears to be archaic for any conceivable application in the 21st century.
Zimbabwe police chief warns 'puppets' Zimbabwe's police chief says his force will not allow British and American "puppets" to take power in Zimbabwe, sending an ominous signal to opposition leaders ahead of March 29 polls, reports said on Friday. Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri is the third service chief to come out in support of Robert Mugabe.
M&G Media publisher denies bankrolling Mugabe rival State media in Zimbabwe on Friday accused prominent South Africa-based Mail & Guardian publisher Trevor Ncube of donating R300 000 to President Robert Mugabe's rival Simba Makoni two weeks ahead of scheduled parliamentary polls.
EU, UN urged to respond to Zim crackdown Zimbabwe's crackdown on political dissent may need to be discussed by the United Nations Security Council, a prominent Southern African human rights activist declared this week. Opponents of President Robert Mugabe have reported large-scale harassment and intimidation in the tense period leading to elections due later this month.
Islamists behead three soldiers in Somalia Islamist insurgents cut off the heads of three Somali soldiers south of the capital on Thursday and the United Nations special envoy said he would try to set up peace talks between the opposition and government. It was the first case of beheadings since the government and its Ethiopian military allies ousted the Islamists from power in late 2006.
Mbeki opposes assault on rebel Comoros island South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki said he opposed a threatened African Union-backed assault by the Comoros archipelago's troops against the rebel island of Anjouan, saying it should be given time for a poll. Hundreds of federal troops have amassed on nearby Moheli island vowing an imminent assault on hilly, wooded Anjouan.
Headache delayed Sudan-Chad pact Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was due to attend a rescheduled peace accord signing with Chad's President Idriss Déby Itno on Thursday after failing to show up on Wednesday and telling mediators he had a headache. The mediators hope the non-aggression pact will end years of hostility between Sudan and Chad.
Hundreds of Kenyans ill after 'toxic leak' Hundreds of Kenyans have fallen ill after a chemical consignment was dumped on the roadside near the port city of Mombasa, officials said on Thursday. According to a local official, up to 1 500 people have sought treatment at local hospitals, complaining mainly of chest pains and respiratory problems.
UN heading for Iraq-style disaster in Darfur United Nations peacekeeping troops are heading for "Iraq-style disaster" in Darfur as long as talks between the government and rebel groups remain stalled and the United States maintains its hostile stance, Sudanese officials and regional experts warned on Wednesday.
Museveni refuses to hand over rebels The Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, is headed for a confrontation with the International Criminal Court after saying he will not hand over to The Hague the leaders of his country's rebel Lord's Resistance Army indicted for war crimes. Museveni said Joseph Kony, the LRA leader, and his commanders will instead be brought before "traditional" Ugandan courts.Rebels sign deals, walk out of talks
Liberals, Islamists clash over Morocco 'gay wedding' When rumours of a "gay wedding" spread through the town of Ksar el Kebir, the only evidence produced was a video on YouTube of a man dancing in women's clothes. Four people are now in prison accused of homosexual acts, Islamists are decrying a decline in morals and liberals are warning that the kingdom risks sleep-walking into extremism.
US says vigilante killings on the rise in Mozambique Violence at the hands of security forces, lynchings and vigilantism against criminals, are tarnishing Mozambique's human rights record, according to a new report by the United States. The US State Department's country report on human rights, launched in Maputo, said there had been a rise in vigilante killings.
Nigerian oil delta under threat of new violence The risk of renewed violence in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta is increasing because militants are frustrated by a lack of concrete results from peace talks, a key negotiator said on Wednesday. Kingsley Kuku, a senior member of a government peace committee, said the government still had an opportunity to avert violence.Rebel sees govt threat to peace.
Mugabe awards big pay-hike to civil servants President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has awarded large pay hikes to civil servants, including teachers, ahead of March 29 polls, local news reports said on Wednesday. Addressing a rally on Tuesday at a school in Inyathi, in the country's Matabeleland North province, Mugabe said he had signed the new salary schedule earlier in the week.
I am probably going to gradually (or quickly -- who the heck knows) focus the Africa Roundup review more toward the material compiled by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. For instance, here's their posted collection for March 13th:
Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement: Beyond the Crisis
On 11 October 2007, the Sudan Liberation People’s Movement (SPLM) announced it was suspending participation in the Government of National Unity because the National Congress Party (NCP) was not implementing key aspects of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the generation-long, primarily North-South conflict.
Gabonese Senior Enlisted Receive Leadership Training from U.S. Military
As part of the Navy's Global Maritime Strategy, Africa Partnership Station (APS) is training Gabonese senior enlisted sailors on noncommissioned officer (NCO) leadership, a one-week course, which is part of an international effort aiming to enhance regional maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa, March 7.
Yep, I think that's a much better compilation of stories to use as a basis for the roundup. I loved seeing the story on President Bush including the fight against malaria as part of the globar war on terror -- which is the War For Freedom. Kudos to the Kuwait-America Foundation for hosting the event. Stand for Africa, indeed.
I'm sure I've commented on this before but it seems an apropos time to make the point again: America, militarily, is receiving an incredible sharpening of skills on the battlefield of Iraq. Thanks to Gerard Van der Leun, this point popped into my consciousness. Last week, in "How to Bring the Troops Home Early and Make Everybody Happy," Gerard highlighted an article written to be purposefully scary (KiIler Military Robots Pose Latest Threat to Humanity -- scary enough for you???), especially to those who are anti-technology, on the growing presence of robots on the battlefield.
Demonstrating one strength (and possible weakness -- people of weak or devious mindset lie all the time) of the blogosphere, a reader who claims to be a Software System Safety Engineer contributed this gem to the discussion:
I may as well tell you: this is the field I work in: System Software Safety.
That title is a essentially a euphemism meaning:
"Now that computers with guns, missiles and lasers are killing planes, missiles and people, how can you be sure they follow the Rules of Engagement?"
It's a fascinating field, but not a well appreciated one; at least not yet. The design engineers program in the 'Grace', I make sure that it 'Loves' people. Well, if not 'Love', at least it doesn't harm the things with the right signature....
I loved that movie 'Westworld' when I was a kid--Yul Brynner as the killer cyborg gunslinger was the coolest thing ever. Now, I'm actually working on the first generations of automated killers. I think of the tagline daily at work: "Nothing can go wrong.... Go wrong..... Go wrong...."
Of course, it's a lot easier for people (taxpayers and congress critters) to swallow the concept when you say: "It's only built to kill missiles! Or artillery shells!"; but the Djinni is out of the silicon boule.
Lethal surveillance with racial recognition? Oh yeah, we'll go there.
People are pretty squeamish with the idea and keep wanting to put a 'human in the loop' to give the shoot-don't-shoot authority, but it doesn't take many tests or iterations to discover that the human is the weak link in the system; both in the Shoot and Don't Shoot cases.
Guns don't kill people. Robots with guns kill people.
And he later added:
To dig deeper into [the purposefully scary article]:
The robotics expert is also concerned with a number of ethical issues that arise from the use of autonomous weapons. He added: "Current robots are dumb machines with very limited sensing capability. What this means is that it is not possible to guarantee discrimination between combatants and innocents or a proportional use of force as required by the current Laws of War.
That's like saying: "A tiger is a dumb machine with very limited sensing capability that cannot discriminate between prey and not-prey."
Autonomous systems now have far better sensing capabilities (radar, sonar, molecular sampling, pattern recognition, visible light, Infrared) than very limited human sight or hearing.
It's clearly not the sensing capabilities that are the problem--the autonomous systems can engage targets that humans cannot even see or hear (or smell)!
He's squeamish about the 'ethics' of the whole thing, but he doesn't know how to state it.
The correct way to state it is:
"Are we sure that this autonomous system has the correct software and hardware inhibits to target only the signatures allowed by ROE while tracking all signatures in it's sensor field of view."
The software and hardware inhibits designed into the robot essentially mimic human 'ethics'. Those inhibits can be designed and tested to a risk of less than 1 incorrect engagement in 1 million hours of operation. For comparison, a well trained human will make a mistake every 1 thousand hours.
Let's do a thought experiment: You are in a pitch-black room with a mouse in it: Do you want a human with a shotgun in the room with you trying to kill it? Or a Mouse-Killer robot with a shotgun, IR vision, with mouse-recognition and a background target deconfliction program running?
"It seems clear that there is an urgent need for the international community to assess the risks of these new weapons now rather than after they have crept their way into common use."
Well, what are the risks? That it kills the wrong thing? or that it can't kill the right things fast enough?
In the case of shooting down an ICBM, let's bias the inhibits toward shooting 'cuz it's worse to lose a city to a nuclear missile than to incorrectly shoot down an airliner full of talented orphans.
If the risk is that it could shoot the wrong thing, an autonomous system is measurably 1000 times more discriminating than a human across more spectra than a human can even sense!
As far as "assessing these risks now"; It's too late.
We are still dealing with it a little euphemistically, 'cuz we are morally squeamish about letting humans be automatically killed by something non-volitional.
As a former infantryman and current Software System Safety Engineer, I don't see the problem....
But ultimately, it's still a free-willed, perhaps even God-fearing, human who programs it and sends it on its way to kill. The volition to kill and the killing are merely separated spacially and temporally, but not to fear: it's still Cain and Abel and Battle of the Somme, etc....
Yes, it is, although I'm certain his vision from the inside is easily critiqued by those on the outside or those politically opposed (for various reasons) to the inevitability of automation. So it goes. Automation cannot be stopped, it must be managed.
Our efforts in Iraq have us interacting with a culture we desperately need to interact with, and working side by side with that culture in all manner of activities (state, federal, municipal, military, personal, etc.). This is a tremendous positive, for us and for them regardless of what the leftwing zombies mindlessly regurgitate.
Still, it may be the case that our ability to work with and get on-the-job training with the ongoing technological revolution may be the greatest benefit coming out of our fight for freedom in Iraq.