Saturday, July 25, 2009

Memory Lane

What's left my conscience said? What's left my conscience said?

It's been a rough, uneven couple of days. And there's no need to stay in the apartment and figure it all out while clear skies and sandy beaches await outside. Normal, sucky blogging to return next week.

Post-script: Believe it or not, this is the 1,000th post on this site. And it only took me a year and a couple weeks to do it. (me, patting myself on the back). Continue Reading »

Friday, July 24, 2009

Don't spend it all in one place

Because 70 cents more per hour certainly won't take you too far:

Poor workers may have especially good cause to say TGIF today.

That's because amid the worst recession in decades, about 500,000 of Texas' lowest paid employees will get a raise. The federal minimum wage increases to $7.25 per hour from $6.55.

While those workers include thousands of financially secure students still living with Mom and Dad, they also include thousands of the most impoverished and vulnerable members of the workforce – those who sink further into debt each month as ordinary expenses outweigh their meager paychecks.

Sure, the raise is the right thing to do. But it's not nearly enough. To emphasize that point, how about a slice of life from April Greer of Dallas?

She finally caught a break two months ago, when a nonprofit agency helped her land a part-time, minimum-wage job at T.J. Maxx, taking home about $800 a month.

Two weeks ago, after she started having dizzy spells at work, she collapsed and spent two days in the hospital.

Doctors aren't sure what's wrong with her. Maybe diabetes. Maybe her heart. Maybe just stress.

Greer knows she can't afford $434 a month for the medication her doctor says she needs. She can barely afford the $100 a week she's been paying her in-laws to cover their ballooning utility bills.

She wants to find a second job, but doesn't know if her body can take it.

"Since I'm the only one right now for my kids, I have to take care of my health," she said.

Her children worry. Her oldest, who is 17, wants to drop out of high school to help pay the bills.

And thus the cycle continues.

I suppose here is where we bring it all back to health care. I know, everyone finds it more interesting to analyze Obama's offhanded remarks about arrest of Skip Gates, but all that boring stuff he talked about before was the whole point of that news conference.

The poorest among us, people like Ms. Greer, are also generally the most vulnerable among us. And there's nothing healthy about straddling and slipping below the poverty line. As dday at Hullabaloo noted, "In this most cruel of American landscapes, the poor and the sick often are the same person."

If forced to predict the future, I see a very bleak outcome for Ms. Greer and her young family. Maybe she'll get so sick that she can't work at her job anymore. Maybe she'll be crushed by the wave of debt sure to follow. Maybe her 17-year-old son will follow through on his plans to drop out of school so he can accept the same kind of low-wage job that his mother has.

And maybe a lot of this could have been prevented if Ms. Greer had access to health care that didn't send her spiraling into financial oblivion.

But on the bright side, no socialized Obamacare for at least another couple months. Continue Reading »

Random Acts of YouTube

For your smelly privates. Or, as the First Lady says, when soap and water won't do:

Continue Reading »

Caring about our health

First off, I do not know much about the intricacies of the health care debate. What's more, I do not know all that much about my own insurance coverage. That doesn't necessarily mean you should stop reading, but I'm only trying to be honest with you.

But even with this paucity of knowledge about the nuts and bolts of the issue - like Michael Steele, I don't do policy - I know there is something critically wrong with a system that allows for 47 million people in this country to go uninsured.

Also, I know that if I were to really get sick, I would be shit out of luck. I'd plunge into the financial abyss. But I would have plenty of company.

Anyway, I have a pair of friendly but very long-winded neighbors who live on the first floor of the building in my apartment complex. They are in their late 50s: the woman is dying from a brain tumor and other related illnesses and her husband walks with help of a cane, is missing about a third of his teeth and thinks "something is wrong with me, but I probably won't know what it is until they wheel me into the emergency room." He tells me that it would cost as much as $85,000 for him to get insurance coverage. It should go without saying that he's uninsured.

They are friendly, resilient people. And they - regular Fox News viewers - are fiercely against any plan from Obama to expand access to health care.

Last night, the man tried to force me into a conversation about Obama's news conference. And against my better judgment, I halfheartedly engaged in a debate with him.

Mostly, I let him rant. And I posed a series of questions: "But don't you think anything is better than the system we have now?" "Do you really prefer insurance company bureaucrats interested in profits to government bureaucrats interested in better health outcomes?" "Don't you think you'd have a better chance of getting care under a public option?" "Are you really OK with a system that allows 47 million people to go uninsured?"

He was unmoved. And then he started off on a diatribe about Obama appointing a "science czar" who believes in "Eugenics." It was about that point that I mentally checked out of the conversation.

But what gives?

More than ever, I'm concerned - especially after Sen. Harry Reid's brilliant stroke of leadership yesterday - that any Obama plan for healthcare reform is going to meet successful resistance. And my neighbor, in some ways, is the clearest indication of this concern.

Despite all the available evidence, all the terrible stories, financial struggles that have nearly ruined him and even his own failing health, my neighbor is convinced that Obama and the Congressional Democrats are trying to run a fast one on the rest of us.

What's wrong with him? And where does the conversation go from here? I wonder if I'm missing out on a teachable moment, even though the discussion is already far above my small little brain.
UPDATE: Fixt typo in 7th graf. (Thanks, Maria)
Continue Reading »

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Relationship advice from Superhead

Is this a joke?

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Though in all fairness, if there's anyting she knows how to do, it's how to allow someone to "stand down" and "let a man be a man."

I think Hoda Kotb actually has a "bitch, please" moment during this segment.

And here's more from Ms. Steffans' latest literary effort, the "Vixen Manual." Continue Reading »

Memory Lane

I really miss New Orleans. It will never be the same:

Continue Reading »

The Kenyan Prince Birth Announcement Scam

Maybe the "birthers" are actually on to something:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Political HumorJoke of the Day

The scam is tricky. But I wouldn't put anything past a fur-ner and a colored lover.

Speaking of interracial love, I'm beginning to fall head over heels for Salon's Joan Walsh. She even managed to outdo herself last night on "Hardball."

Post-script: I always find myself trying to quit Chris Matthews. But then he goes out and does something like this. No one is better at letting their guests hang themselves with their own rope.

Continue Reading »

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Because she deserved it

USA Today's Christine Brennan on Erin Andrews:

“Andrews incident is bad, but to add perspective: there are 100s of women sports journalists who have never had this happen to them.” She continued, “women sports journalists need to be smart and not play to the frat house. There are tons of nuts out there.”
Post-script: What was I thinking about? You can not be a real, bonafide blogger and post an item about Erin Andrews without a picture. I have my limits but I'm not above a little pandering for pageviews. Continue Reading »

Monday, July 20, 2009

Free period

Jeebus. If only my day job would stop getting in the way of all this important blogging.

But finally, Your Random-Ass Monday Roundup has been posted over at PostBourgie.

This week, we reflect briefly on the career of good 'ol Houston kid Walter Cronkite; another fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man in New York; Uncle Pat; President Obama's, ahem, "no excuses" address to the NAACP; how overconfidence might have doomed Wall Street; and how a victory by the NFL in the U.S. Supreme Court could forever alter the history of American sports.
You know. Just lightweight stuff. And, as a bonus, no mention of Sarah Palin or Michael Jackson.

Now enjoy some Shaq:

Sorry. I was lying about Michael Jackson. Continue Reading »

Random Acts of YouTube

An e-mail from a friend this morning - who rushed off to the gym to fit in a quick workout - reminded me that I never have enough time to stay in shape the way that I want.

If only there was a workout plan that was effective and time-efficient:

The Random Ass Monday Roundup - Free Period, for our purposes - will be posted a little later than usual today. Stay tuned. Continue Reading »

Sunday, July 19, 2009

In praise of progressive hip-hop

Over at PostBourgie, we've posted our weekend endorsements today. You might remember that this is a semi-regular feature over there.

Here's mine:

As an owner of satellite radio for the past four years, I have learned not to get too attached to particular channels, shows or hosts. Things change quickly and often without explanation.

I’m thinking about the demise of Wax 42, a channel dedicated to airing relatively obscure hip-hop remixes and freestyles. As you might imagine, it was a sanctuary of sorts from rappers named “Yung” and songs elaborately produced by Pharrell or Timbaland.

Well, against my better judgment, I have once again found myself jonesing for a reliable “progressive hip hop” outlet: the weekly Subsoniq show on the old school-devoted Backspin channel. Hosted by Doc and KB, the show comes on every Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. eastern.

On Subsoniq, the hosts almost never resort to cheap radio gimmicks or regular spins from “106 and Park”-type fare. A regular listener might hear artists ranging from Outkast to Blackalicious to Big L, reasoned critiques of a new Kanye release or a thoughtful debate about Inspectah Deck’s best verse – “Triumph” or “Above the Clouds” with Gangstarr (I'm thinking Triumph).

If you love hip hop and the people who love the music, you won’t be disappointed.

Post-script: I actually wrote this endorsement a couple weeks ago. Now, I should also note that you can go to their Web site or join their Facebook fan page and download the show or find play lists from older shows.

Post post-script: Because this video was so nice and I mentioned it earlier, I had no choice but to post it. Inspectah's verse was heated but I was always partial to Raekwon on this one ("Aiyo, that's amazing/gun in your mouth talk/verbal foul hawk/connect thoughts to make my manchild walk"). Dopeness.

Continue Reading »

Memory Lane

I've been listening to Nas all morning. It's that kind of day - I need serious help get the writing juices flowing. I'm hoping for some "in my rhyming book, all the words pass the margin"-type inspiration.

Anyway, all that "Illmatic" led me to this classic remix from Mariah and Joe featuring God's Son. It's probably my favorite song from Mariah:

I'll come with something a little harder - or sillier - next go-round. But sometimes we all need to mellow out. Continue Reading »