Friday, December 30, 2011

Nighttime reading continued: Deep Economy

I had forgotten how much of an environmentalist this guy is.  It figures he lives in Vermont, where all slow foods, farmer's market, east coast environmentalists live.  But he brings up very good points about how our modern economy is built off of abundant access to fossil fuels and that eventually these will run out, so the increasing growth of ours and the world's economies are not sustainable.  More importantly, he says that the increase in the amount of stuff that we have don't necessarily make us happier.  Well….I don't know about not having a new car and that being a good thing….I know a shiny new van with heated seats and dvd players in the headrests for the kids and wi-fi accessibility would make me real happy about now…gas powered or not.

No Vacation Zone: Hawaii???!

“Take nothing for granted,” Christie said. “Elections are decided by the people who show up, by the people who vote, by the people who care about their country enough to be out here on Friday Morning in Iowa, in the rain, in the cold, because you love your country and because you believe this man can help lead this country back to greatness.”
“We are out in the cold and wind because we care about America,” Romney said before slipping in a jab at the president, telling the crowd that Obama has just “finished his 90th round of golf” on his Hawaiian vacation.
Ok, so the president can't take a vacation in his HOME STATE, where his family is located?  Is Hawaii not a state?! I thought it was an all-american pastime to hang on the beach whenever you can? Just because you all are cold, doesn't mean he's lazy because he's home for the holiday season.  My family goes to Myrtle Beach for Christmas because my mom's family farmed there.  I guess we're all just slackers…

America Votes For The Braxtons

I love Fareed Zakaria.  And he brings up that we are not the only ones in the world that are having elections that will change the outcome of how the world will inter rest with each other.  I think that this fact is why I get so frustrated with a certain sector of the american public: they have never been anywhere, and frankly don't care. They don't see, or have a very skewed perspective on, other countries interests.  We have been an economic power for so long, and frankly are such a big country, many don't take the time to keep up with the political happenings of the broader world. Our political process is fascinating during an election year but after that, for too many folks it's back to mindless entertainment like my personal favorite show that has candy-like nutritional value, The Braxtons. Will Toni do the next Braxton record? Will Towanda get a great part in a soap and divorce her husband? Will the Tamar get hit in the mouth after she says another mean, but truthful, statement about what one of her sisters are doing? This is what america really wants to know.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

We live in a multi-cultural society. Deal with it!

The fact that in 2012 this still has to be written about really bothers me.  Why is it that we have to still search for characters for our children to see and relate to that have melanin in them?  These books are beautiful, but it brings up the point of why is it that so many people STILL have to look high and low for the same type of image? My cousin's wife, who is white, is always looking for books that show off her world view.  One of the most beautiful books she has is a book about mothers and children in primarily third world countries.  It's gorgeous and wonderful to look at.  She lived for many years in Africa and is actually one of the few white people that actually does have many friends of different ethnicities, not just the required one melanin-infused friend.  The blogger who posted this is Vietnamese and like she says, looking for things that represent her daughter, while trying to explain to the wider public that her bi-racial children are actually hers, and she's not the nanny…for real!

I think we need to get off of the default setting for "girl" or boy" being pink skinned.  I think that people need to take responsibility for creating things from their own cultural perspective that can be enjoyed by all.  I think that I have a lot of other, more important things to do than to search hours and days, literally, for something for my kids to watch and read that balances out what the media presents to them so they feel like they are beautiful too.

"Family values" are found in individuals, not political parties

Was thinking about the upcoming republican iowa caucuses and thinking about marriage and relationships and why the republican party makes me a little mad.  Not because of their beliefs or philosophies but because they wear their philosophies like they themselves invented values.  In this article  at these two people were married for 69 YEARS! Newt Gingrich, and other republicans want people to vote for them based off of family values of fidelity.  "I have made mistakes," Gingrich says (paraphrased) "And I'm on the right path now." Sure you are.  

If you want me to use fidelity as a character trait upon which to vote for you, If I was republican, someone else other than Newt Gingrich would have to get the pleasure of my vote.  But, really, if I was a republican voting on fidelity as a character trait, I'd have to vote for the current president because I've seen this marriage up close; at least as close as the public eye can get. 

Having said all that….

As I was discussing with my family over Christmas, there is a special place in hell for those who cheat on their wives when they are sick and possibly/probably dying.  You may not be able to fight feelings that happen, but if you are an adult, you sure can control your actions.  Marriage is hard.  Really hard.  Divorce is not a dirty word, but when you cheat, at least do it when your wife ain't dying of cancer. That's cold and a no-no found on page one of the respect-for-your wife handbook.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sleep Reading...

Getting ready to re-read "Deep Economy" by Bill McKibben.  I remember the end starts getting a little pedantic and slow…kind of like what he's advocating.  But I think it's something that makes me feel a little better after reading "The Big Short". Gotta fall asleep to something…why not this.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means, PT 3....

Ok, this is getting ridiculous.  Now, to be real, the congressman was saying this privately, but…WHAT DE HELL?!?!?! So just because the First Lady has a large behind (not a negative in many communities that have melanin) they have to keep saying this Bullsh$t about Michelle Obama?! I'm not going to comment about Rush Limbaugh.  There's nothing more to say…

You know, I hate to point this out, but Laura Bush wasn't the most shapely woman in the world, but she looked aight in an evening gown.  Nobody said nothin'!  Now, when the first lady wants to promote healthy eating and activity among America's youth you got a problem with her A$$?!  If she was a 1000lb woman promoting healthy eating and exercise, we would cheer and say, she's working on it and we'll all get there together.  See Mike Huckabee.  The comments people have made about her (see my earlier blog about respect of the first lady) are downright vicious. It's insane!

So I say, to those who have a problem: go have a cookie, matter a fact, have several, sit on the couch and eat chips, never have a vegetable, or even walk a dog occasionally; shoot, don't even walk, just drive everywhere…The rest of us are going to live well doing the best we can and enjoy our nice behinds….and you know what you can do with them….show them some love.

It's just Hair Y'all

This is what I'm talking about.  It's just hair y'all. We don't become "militant, anti-white/establishment/revolutionaries" just because we choose to wear our hair the way God made it.  And if you choose to straighten it or color it, that's fine too.  Weaves, relaxers, and wigs do not equal house negro either.  It's just hair y'all.

Wrote a song about it.  Wanna hear it, here it go:

Wanna own it for your very own? Go here or here

Monday, December 26, 2011

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means, PT 2....

I'm sitting at the breakfast table in South Carolina.  Sitting on the table just happens to be a catalog called "The Lightterside" full of gag gifts.  Kind of like Miles Kimball; inexpensive gifts and household things you see in any house of a grandparent-type person.  We're having the standard breakfast of grits, eggs, smoked sausage and bacon (standard southern morning meat-fest). 

On the front is this picture:
Obama Plush Toy Which Farts
Now, OK, I understand satire about political figures is out there.  I understand that people make fun of the president.  That's all well and good. But REALLY?! The president farts?! Then talks about the healthcare bill?! Usually satire is based off some semblance of  the public image of the president: partier (Bush 2), over-confident-womanizer (clinton), un-connected to the masses (Bush 1) forgetful-father-figure (Reagan).  The list goes on, but Obama --- farting?!  Remember the Hillary Clinton nut-cracker? Though disrespectful, at least it was based off of public perception of her being a really tough woman.  

This is really over the top.  The countdown calendar to Obama getting out of office is not that bad nor even the Obummer t-shirt.  But the vitriol of a certain sect of theAmerican public towards the first family is really over the top. Obama was a law professor, specializing in the constitution. At the bottom of the description it says,"All in good fun of course--we respect the office of the president."  Uh huh..yea…sure you do...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

It Don't Mean A Thing...

So George Bush 2 endorses Mitt Romney for President.  As I eat my ribs made by cousin Edward and my mother's famous chestnut stuffing with brandy in it, collard greens, butter beans and peas…I think….Why do I care? Does it really matter that the president that said he never made a mistake or changed his mind is endorsing one of the most changeable politicians out there since John Kerry…chomp…chomp…chomp…mmmm…smiling contented sigh: nope.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Basics

In this holiday season I have to say again the words you seem to hear from me so often:


I'm working with kids and so I decide to do "name that tune" with Christmas songs.  I don't have a Christmas book with me so I just wing it.  Here's the tune list:

Here Come's Santa Clause
Jingle Bells
Christmas Time is Here
Joy to the World
Winter Wonderland
The Christmas Song (chestnuts roasting on a open fire...)
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow
Silent Night
Deck The Halls
Oh, Christmas Tree
I'll be Home for Christmas
- and -
Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Now I'll be home for Christmas, maybe I'll take that you don't know that, but Oh Christmas Tree?! Let it Snow?! The Christmas Song (this, the most popular Christmas song of all time was actually written by a Jew, Mel Torme)?!

These are not kindergardeners, they're in 4th and 5th grades!  The fact that our children do not know some basic cultural material is upsetting.  In that spirit, I'm starting a sing along in my car cause at least MY kids will know some of this stuff.  Maybe it'll spread.  It's due time we value our cultural heritage, no matter where it came from. 

R's can't get their stories straight...

Now all Obama has to say is, "See?!?! They [republicans] can't even work with their own party! The house republicans can't work with the senate republicans. How do you expect me to work with them?!"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pundits or children...You decide

video platform video management video solutions video player

Saw this while I was making pancakes in the morning for my kids.  Actually, it sounded just like my kids: 

"I worry about the mad proliferation of cameras through our lives. I don't want to make safety….trump personal liberty!" - George Will
"Here is where the right wing republicans want big government.  They are the ones who want to regulate personal choices…George I assume you want to join with me an Ron Paul in removing the criminal penalties on the use of Marijuana. - Barney Frank


"I'm making pancakes."  - Mommy
"I want bacon." - Kissiah
"We're not having bacon, but I have turkey sausage."  - Mommy
"I don't want turkey sausage, I want bacon." - Kissiah
"Too much fat, but I may have some turkey bacon." - Mommy 
"I don't like turkey bacon, I like pig bacon!" - Kissiah 

Friday, December 16, 2011

When a Recession has actually become a Depression

You know, my daughters love the story of Cinderella.  Though this is a European fantasy, it has a distinctly American character.  Beautiful, under appreciated girl works hard for those who are undeserving; they beat her down mercilessly but they get their comeuppance by Cinderella landing the prince and becoming happy and rich. Most importantly, throughout any of the many, many incarnations of Cinderella (and I know there are hundreds because my 1st daughter has youtubed and watched EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM) she is uncomplaining, sweet, and gracious throughout all her trials; not even so much as yelling at her persecutors.

We americans believe if we just: (1) keep our heads down, (2) don't complain, (3) work hard, (4) do all the right things, (5) save and invest money wisely in the stock market, (6) goto a good college and study something that will bring in lots 'o money -  such as becoming a doctor, a lawyer, an architect, etc -  (7) buy an affordable all that and you will attain the american dream! Voila! The prince will carry you off from your burdensome difficulties and you will live in a castle in american suburbia, white picket fence and errythang'.  Jus' like I pictured it (a la Stevie Wonder).  But what we are finding is that student loan debt is stifling abilities of young people to start their lives (we're talking $50 - $250K to get through those masters and medical schools, and sometimes no job at the end). Dream(s) Delayed. John Corizine and his investment company just lost $1.6 BILLION of investor money, just lost it….don't know where it 'tis…Dream(s) Denied.  You bought the house, but now it's worth about half what you paid for it and you can't get out because no one will buy it and hey…you just lost your job or haven't been able to find one for oh about 1.5 YEARS. Dream(s) Defunct.

Paul Krugman just wrote an editorial in the NY Times that says let's just call a spade a spade:  

It’s time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that’s cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.

We ain't in no recession, we're really in a f****n depression. damn. Europe, you gave us the cinderella story, and now all of us westerners have lost the narrative...

Cue my song "Depression" from my just completed new album called.....wait for it..."Mommy, What's A Depression?" The words to the song go "...this life is hard, I'm just trying to get by, it's easier to fly…." I'm trying to give voice to the many, many people out there who can relate to this line....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This is kinda angry, but I was just pissed off....

For those of you who have delicate ears and don't wanna read me cursing, step away now, cause I'ma 'bout to let 'er rip.  I was listening to the radio today and I heard an ad for the Lars Larson show, apparently a conservative themed radio program, and he said essentially those who got a mortgage that they couldn't afford and got caught up in the mortgage mess are STUPID.  Ok, M**A F***A, say that sh*t to my face!!  I got caught!  I am a university professor. I have a Bachelors and a Masters degree.  More broadly, just because you got caught doesn't mean that you were stupid.  A little of my story:

I saved for YEARS to buy my first house.  My mom said to me when I got married, "you can get married in a really nice hall for a lot of money, or you can have your reception in 19th Street Baptist Church for $500....I will give you the difference to put towards your first house."  My reception had no dancing because we ate our dinner and had the creme de la creme of Philly Jazz Musicians in the reception hall of a Baptist (read: no dancing allowed) Church.  And even then I still had to save for YEARS after that to buy my first house.  Once I had the down payment, because I was a musician, and thereby self employed, I was offered no option but a high mortgage rate.  I was told by my mortgage broker, who by the way was the nephew of my mother's college classmate, that if I paid my mortgage on time for 12 months, I could refinance for a reasonable rate of 7%.  Unfortunately for me, I decided to take out a home equity loan to upgrade the property at the same time because, in order to own that particular house, I had to become a landlord.  The house was old and needed fixing up.  So I got a very low rate, and paid regularly, but a couple of years in, my payment changed DRAMATICALLY.  I called the company and said,"What de hell!!??!!" And they said,"you signed an ARM, an adjustable rate mortgage", I replied, "No, I DIDN'T.  I wouldn't do that because that would be a financially stupid decision for me" Them: "We have your signature if you'd like to see it"  I had been caught in a trap! My mortgage broker - - remember: he was the nephew of a close friend of my mother's, someone you might think had my best interests at heart - - had screwed me over.  I shook my head sadly…I thought somehow I must have missed something.

Later on, when I bought my house in MD, I talked to the title agent.  That person may have been blowing smoke up my ass, but she said, "No, Alison…you didn't miss anything. I've talked to you for a while, and they just didn't tell you what you were signing.  I've seen it happen many times."

How many houses do people buy in their lifetime?! FOR REAL?! One?! TWO?!  In NYC, the mortgage contract is 1.5 INCHES thick full of legal size papers in REALLY small print.  It is EXTREMELY PLAUSIBLE that a vast number of people didn't completely understand everything in such a complicated document.  Also, when someone dangles your dreams in front of you, no matter how thoughtful you are, if it's something where you don't have a lot of experience, you may make a mistake.  That doesn't in any shape, form or fashion equate with stupidity. And FYI Mr. Larson, and any one else who talks about normal, rational people who may have made a mistake: Bankers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents and title agents all made a whole lot of money every time someone got a mortgage, home equity loan, or any other real estate based financial product.  It was in their financial interest to get as many people to buy or sell their homes as they could.  Everyone, soup to nuts, was making a sh*tload of money.  So goody for you, Mr. Larson, whoever the hell you are, that you didn't get caught in the housing CRISIS. From the rest of us stupid, fallible, people we'd like to say, "Kiss my a**!! And make sure you don't miss a spot and be sure to feel and smell the breeze while you're down there...."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

NPR: GOP pbjects to 'Millionaires Surtax': Millionaires we found? Not so much

NPR did this story recently about the Millionaire surtax to pay for other programs and decided to find some millionaires who were against it.  They found very few who were willing to talk about it at all, but the two they found were not stopping their hiring based off of whether they were taxed or not.  

Now I have a friend who owns her own financial consulting business.  She IS the american dream.  Came from NOTHING and built a thriving insurance and financial consulting firm, taught herself spanish and lives in a big house, literally, on a hill down a long driveway.  When I talked to her, she said, we gotta bring down some of these taxes, they're killing me!  However, she did not say that her hiring practices changed because of her tax burden.  My Grandfather who owned a farm said that if you're paying more taxes, you're making more money. Rejoice!

No one wants to pay taxes dude.  I may get a tax break for childcare, but whether I had the tax break or not, I gotta pay for my child to get watched because I gotta go to work.  If a business has work coming in and not enough people to handle it, that company will hire more workers or find a way to get more productivity out of the current workers they have. Taxes may be a part of any decision, but the work needs to get done regardless. Period. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Choosing between Health or House in America...

You know, Facebook is good for something because I found this op-ed in the LA TImes today that helped me really realize something that I needed to: that I am not alone.  Health care for me has been a big issue. For many years, I paid for my own health care for me and my family.  First in NYC where I had to pay really high premiums but EVERYTHING was covered.  Then in MD where I had the fraudulent health insurance that decided it only took $4000 to have a baby and that's all it covered: doctor visits, all tests, hospital stays and giving birth.  Oh, and btw, when the baby came out, she was now an individual who was uninsured, so they wouldn't pay for her. Many thousand of dollars (and I mean many, many, many thousands of dollars) later, I found a different insurance which is better, but the high deductible makes it so that I'm doing my best not to get really sick.

This article really reminds, "There but for the grace of God go I."  This woman had to choose between health insurance and her house because the economy ruined her and her husbands self employed business.  She chose her home.  Comments underneath said things like, "well, she should've found a cheaper place to live." and " Tragic but "we the people" should not pay for her misfortune."

Again, WHO IS ASKING FOR A FRICKIN HANDOUT HERE?!?!?! All the woman wanted was to be covered by insurance and found out that because of the Affordable Health Care Act (I refuse to call it obamacare), she now has access to health care coverage that she can afford to pay HERSELF! It ain't like its free or welfare. I am soooooo tired of the people who say that just because someone wants something that's affordable and easy to deal with that they are a communist or believes in socialism and your problems ain't my problems so just deal with it.  I hope that those people never have a daggum problem with their health like cancer as this woman did and have to choose between their health and a roof over their head.  It  makes me just wanna kick 'em in the nuts with a pointy toed shoe….

Sunday, December 4, 2011

We Don't Need Kid Janitors...

Ok, Newt Gingrich is now saying that "urban" (read: black and brown), children don't know the value of work because most of them are living in areas where most people don't have a job or when they do work, it is illegal. So, he is advocating that this kids should work in their schools including, but not limited to, being a janitor in the school; thereby you fire the Janitor and save money right?

Ok, there's merit to his argument but not in the way he thinks it is.

1. All children should participate in the running of their school at every level, including the BASIC cleaning of it.  Children in urban, rural, and suburban background should know how to take care of the environments that are important to their development such as their homes, schools, places of worship and community centers - - not just "urban" kids.  I know plenty of "suburban" kids who can't take care of themselves let alone anyone else.

2. As Charles Blow says in his op-ed, most people in inner cities work, but not necessarily the jobs that get them anywhere.  When you don't see that the jobs your parents do gives them enjoyment or lead them anywhere, why would you respect those jobs?  As I've suggested in an earlier post, there is a two-tiered society of the haves (those with computers, technology, etc) and the have nots.  The haves - -  regardless of their economic background - - will move on to possibly become successful because they can see many different avenues towards success.  (One of my student's mother has a 'wall of success' in her house of all the awards her 4th grade daughter has won over the years.  She showed me a picture of it, and proudly calls her daughter a nerd.  It's very obvious this woman is probably on public assistance.) If you grow up believing being a sports star, a model, a reality TV star or a rapper are your only paths to financial success, then essentially you feel you don't have a good chance in life.  Gingrich needs to refine his message to include the understanding of WHY children are having difficulty internalizing success models.