Archive for September 2003

“Music to Whack Terrorists By”

Once again I choose to accept this Mission from The Alliance. The question is

What song(s) would you put on the CD, ‘Music to Whack Terrorists By’?

I started putting together a list that had Wagner (Ride of the Valkyrie) and Bjork (Hunter) but as I was making the list, one group came up over and over: Jackyl. In my opinion, the songs have already been collected onto a CD: Choice Cuts.

First, we have “Locked and Loaded”:

Whatcha gonna do when the sun don’t shine

And the moon don’t come up right on time

Whatcha gonna do when the storm won’t break

And the whip won’t crack
And the earth won’t quake
Whatcha gonna do when the knife won’t cut
The blood won’t flow and ya mouth run dry
Whatcha gonna do when it crumbles in your hand
It’s an eye for an eye when your high horse dies
Primed and ready
Feelin’ nasty, seein’ red
Locked & loaded
Locked & loaded
Locked & loaded
Aimin’ for your soul
Locked & loaded
Whatcha gonna do when the lightnin’ flash
And ya bridges burn and ya start to crash
And a pill won’t take that pain away
But it makes you feel good in a different way
Who ya gonna blame when the man calls time
And the clock runs down and your soul is mine
And how ya gonna pray when ya hands are tied
And you look in my face and you know I lied

Follow that with “Headed for Destruction”:

Hello everybody, welcome to the show
We’re headed for destruction, don’t you want to go

It’s time to romp and stomp
It’s time to jam
It’s time for you to kick some dirt up off the ground
Are you out, are you in, if you’re in are you for sure
‘Cause if you’re in you’re in, and if you’re out you’re out
And get your ass on out the door

How about a little “Push Comes to Shove”?

Ill as a hornet, swarming around
Your political correct world is incorrect I’ve found
An angry young man is what I became
The day that you got full of yourself, and now only you’re to blame

Push me on off of the ledge
I’m standing with my toes hanging over the edge
Not worried about a push coming down from above
I’m ready for you
When push comes to shove

Don’t forget “I Stand Alone”

Well everytime I move Every step I make
You know I just can’t seem to take the right direction

I’m always wrong I’m never right
Right or wrong there always seems to be a correction

And I give everything I got
And they take Take Take Take Take everything I’m giving

My back is tired My legs both ache
In this life There is no cake This life I’m livin’

I stand alone today WHY YOU FEEL Don’t ask me why I feel
I just know I feel this way WHAT YOU SAY I stand alone today
I stand alone today WHY YOU FEEL Don’t ask me why I feel
I just know I feel this way WHAT YOU SAY I stand alone today

I like Jackyl. Jesse James Dupree rules.

Joe Bob says check it out.

Zero Thought

The local rag has a story about how the Duncanville ISD dress code results in 700 suspensions . Get a load of this:

DUNCANVILLE – When Raylee Montgomery’s shirt became untucked in the hall of Duncanville’s Ninth Grade Center, an administrator quickly approached her. The 13-year-old said she apologized, tucked in her shirt, and asked if she could continue to class.

Instead, she was suspended from school, a result of the district’s zero-tolerance dress code policy that some parents say is too extreme.

Zero tolerance goodness. Gotta love government schools.

Duncanville has had more than 700 suspensions for dress code violations since doors to the high school and Ninth Grade Center opened Aug. 18 to 3,540 students. That averages roughly 24 suspensions per school day.

That also comes out to 15-20% of the student population, assuming that there aren’t a massive number of repeat offenders.

The consequences of breaking the rules include a one-day suspension for a first offense, two days for a second offense, and two days plus a loss of school privileges for a third offense.

Don’t look for sense in government schools. I looked at the dress code, and while it is pretty strict, it isn’t overbearing. I work under a stricter dress code here. The problem that I see here is a lack of judgment. That shouldn’t be surprising — zero tolerance usually means zero thought.

It isn’t obvious in the text of the story, but it between the lines: this is about authority and control. Regimentalizing dress and appearance is the first step to regimentalizing thought. That is why the first thing they do in boot camp is shave your head and put you in a plain khaki uniform. That is a Good Thing when you are making soldiers. It is a Bad Thing when you are trying to teach children to think.

On the other hand, there have to be limits. That is why I don’t oppose dress codes in general, even strict ones like in Duncanville. What I do oppose is making a big deal out of minor and trivial infractions. If you want compliance, dish out detention. It sends the message that the rules will be obeyed without the detriment to acedemic performance that missing school has.

This sort of zero-thought policy has one of two effects on a student. It either makes them totally compliant and unwilling to question any rule from an authority figure, or it causes them to learn contempt for all authority figures. If they can’t be trusted to administer minor rules fairly, they cannot be trusted with any rules.

I was the latter. I’m still recovering.

Six of One, Half Dozen of Another

(I actually wrote this post Saturday night, which makes it pretty F-ing interesting that Prometheus 6 and I seemed to be on the same page on this by the time I actually got around to posting it this morning. This post expands on his definitions explaination, but I don’t think this is something that we are going to agree on, and I don’t think that it matters a whole lot between us. The problem I go into here is one much larger than me or P6. As for his response I linked here, I agree with enough of what he writes to endorse it.)

This is a drastic tangent to the Identity Blogging discussion, but it is something that I think that we all need to keep in mind. The terms that we are using for this discussion are simply not good enough for the discussion. The quality of our thought is only as good as our language, and for the past thirty years, the quality of our language when it comes to race relations has been degrading.

Using these words in an inexact manner is something that even I have been guilty of in the past few weeks, and I make a point of keeping myself on guard for it. Language is living. Words change meaning as we use them, and it becomes very difficult to use a word with a specific meaning when those you are conversing with are not using them in the same manner. We tend to adopt the definitions others use — and that is a Good Thing. It is what lets us communicate with each other without having to create a dictionary ahead of time. In this case, though, the definitions that we have been changing have been becoming more and more amorphous, an less useful as a result.

In the past, a lot of the words we use had very hard, specific meanings. The best example is the root of this discussion: “racism”. At one time, not so long ago, this word had a very specific meaning:

The belief that one race has a genetic superiority over another race.

That’s it. That was what it meant, and it was a commonly held belief. That isn’t the case anymore. When you want to find a Classical Racist — someone who believes in the genetic superiority of one race over another — you have to go far, far off into the wings of society. In a way, these people aren’t really much of a part of society, in that they tend to have very little influence. They aren’t a significant economic power. They don’t hold any social pull outside of their own enclaves. They don’t even have any redeeming cultural contributions. Aside from the people that they impact directly through violence, they simply don’t matter.

Even though the racists are gone, they didn’t take the word with them. Instead, the word was broadened to encompass more. What was once called bigotry is now racism. No one says “bigot” anymore — the bigot is now lumped in with the racist, and this makes it harder to discuss things. The bigot is lumped in with a greater evil, and the racist is allowed to hide within the ranks of the bigots. Our language softens, and with it goes our thought.

Even the word “race” has been subject to this. Ethnicity and race are used interchangeably. Race was once considered to be inherited. That manner in which it was passed on wasn’t exactly biological, but it was important that it was something that happened at birth. Ethnicity, on the other hand, was cultural. Race was part of ethnicity, but it wasn’t the entirety of it. The words are significantly different, but we use “race” too often when we mean “ethnicity”. Our language softens, and with it goes our thought.

One place that P6 and I seem to be on the exact same page is in that we as a society ascribe things to race that simply don’t need to follow. When we think “Black” there is an archetype that is associated with it that has nothing to do with race other than skin color (and even that is so amorphous as to be insignificant.) We think poor. We think undereducated. We think of an archetype of Black culture, and then we consign those who fall into this construction of race to a segment of society that reinforces this archetype. Black people drag black people down when they begin to leave this archetype behind. “Keep it real. Quit trying to act White.” White people ridicule them when someone begins to leave this archetype behind. “Where’s your soul? Whazzzup, playa?”

We spend enormous amounts of mental energy trying to come up with a magic bullet for the “Race Problem” and we can’t even agree on what “race” means, much less what the problem is. It certainly isn’t race, in the sense of some sort of genetically inherited quality. Is the problem cultural? It is institutional? Is it some sort of sick cosmic joke where coincidence conspires to make it seem like there is a problem when there really isn’t? We won’t know, because our soft language prevents us from even forming the thought in our mind. If we don’t have a word for a concept, we can’t keep that concept in our head.

We need to narrow the term “racist” down. We need to start using more descriptive terms like ethnicist. We also need to be very wary of allowing the idea of political correctness to soften our language. African-Americans have problems that are very different from the problems of Black Americans, but when we use the same word for both groups — one group with African immigrants, and one group of native Americans that have black skin — we confuse the situation. We don’t even have a word for people who are native Americans — people who have no ties to Africa, or Europe, or Mesopotamia, or wherever some of their ancestors may have come from 300 years ago — that doesn’t conflict with the term for American Indian descendants. Even this word conflicts with our term for Asian Indian-Americans. Our language softens, and with it goes our thought.

It has become painfully cliched, but when we get right down to it, there is only one race — human. The ideal world is one where race doesn’t matter. We are always going to have cultural or ethnic differences. There are ethnic differences between Dallas and Ft. Worth if you look for them. The idea of trying to tie these differences to race is a human construct that has lived long enough. That is what I meant when I said that we need to be deprogrammed, not reprogrammed. I think that it is something that we are going to have to do cold turkey. We cannot try to “correct” things by flipping ethnic preferences around without continuing the problem. To use an artificial preference based on an idea of race must perpetuate and reinforce the idea of race itself.

It is going to be a tough struggle, but it is one that we can either tackle ourselves or put off another 20 years and force our children to tackle.

This one is for Frank J — No comment necessary.

Standing (Until We Knock Each Other Down Again)

The discussion centering at Prometheus 6’s Site is coming along nicely. In his post “Where We Stand” I only take issue with a couple of points.

Black people have only been free for two generations. White people have only had free people of other races around them for two generations. Neither group has mastered their situation yet, and who can blame either? Because this society still gives racialized feedback so clearly and strongly that the honorable efforts made by many on both sides of the veil are simply overwhelmed.

Part of the muddying here comes from the very word “race”, which I don’t think has been adequately defined for this discussion yet. Even people like me and people I expect to be sensitive to this (like P6) fall into the trap of thinking that “race” means “black or white” without taking into account other races.

When you talk about race in America, 90% of the people seem to take into account only Black and White, and it is as if the other races (whatever race means) don’t matter. Which brings me to my point — white people have only had free black people around them for two generations.

Here’s one of the anecdotes of racialized feedback:

Pager found that blacks “are less than half as likely to receive consideration by employers relative to their white counterparts, and black non-offenders fall behind even whites with prior felony convictions.� In other words, even though being black and having served time both negatively affect one�s employment opportunities, controlling for education and skills you are better off being a white male with a felony conviction than a black male with no criminal record.

I have a real issue with the methodology in the study, and having read the report, it seems to be one that occurred to the tester (but wasn’t weighted as heavily.) There are far too many intangibles in the hiring process for me to consider this study as authoritative.

Studies like the one that showed that “black” names on resumes were less likely to get calls than “white” names are more credible to me, because there actually are controls on the variables. In this, the evidence is just measured anecdote. (I take issue with the names study too, because I read the names as being as much “poor and not poor” as “black and not black”, but that is an entire post on its own.)

And there are many, many White people who consciously attempt to bridge the gap. But because they believe the problem is one of individual belief their efforts are flawed. Seeing Black people are still angry and wondering why their openness has no effect, they naturally take the rejection of their personal gestures as a personal rejection�it’s almost impossible for a person not to.

There is another element to this — that rejection is usually seen as an irrational rejection. The viewpoint is, “I gave you what you were asking for, and now you want more?” It leads someone to believe that either the person they are dealing with was never looking for fairness in the first place, but instead an actual advantage, or that the person is simply irrational. Neither outlook helps either person much.

Once you get to that point, it is easy to see anyone who even brings the subject up as being irrational, no one likes to deal with an irrational adverse situation.

So this is where we stand, Black and White folks. At the dawn of an age neither has been prepared for, believing in a society geared to change people into exactly that which we all declare we don’t want to be.

I don’t have the final answer. I don’t think anyone does. But I do know this much�both sides must remember that we were all broken by this. Though the normal assumption is that Black folks alone were the ones that were broken, in fact White people in general were just as programmed as Black people. We were broken in different ways though, and therefore need different messages�we all need to understand that trying to get Black folks to where White folks are isn’t going to work any more than getting White folks to where Black folks are will. We all need to get to a new place.

I think the important thing to remember is that it is deprogramming that needs to be done, not reprogramming.

New Blog Showcase

I’m voting for King of Fools “Caucasian Club”

Since I don’t have any real content for this post, please imagine me making random noises.

I do that sometimes to break the ice.

Pickup with Machine Gun Mistaken as Pickup with Machine Gun

The Beeb is reporting on how the US defends troops over Iraq killings. This info makes the encounter a little easier to interpret.

The initial findings of an American investigation into the firefight earlier this month – in which a Jordanian hospital guard was also killed – are that the troops acted “within the construct of the military’s rules of engagement”.

The US commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, said the investigation was still undergoing final review but added: “The initial reports were clear. There was initial fire and it was a 30-second engagement. At the end of it, the policemen were dead.”

This one is pretty easy to check out, as far as an investigator is concerned. You look at how much ammunition was expended. The guys went through a clip or two each? Short battle. They went through almost all of the seven or eight clips and whole ammunition boxes on support weapons? Long battle.

Several of them said the firing began as several Iraqi police vehicles approached a US checkpoint near the Jordanian military hospital on the outskirts of Falluja, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Baghdad.

In case you aren’t familiar with the names, that is well within the area of strongest resistance. Almost all of the deaths we have sustained since the end of major combat operations have been in this small near-Baghdad area.

The police, all members of the local US-trained force, were chasing a car carrying several wanted gunmen.

It appears there were three police vehicles – one an unmarked pick-up with a rear-mounted machine gun – chasing a fourth vehicle containing gunmen.

Let me put myself in the shoes of these troops at the checkpoint. Four vehicles are bearing down on your position fast. One of them is a technical. (The pickup.) They are all armed. You have been subject to harrassment attacks and bombings for months. What would you do? I would be laying the smack down in my best Shock and Awe fashion.

The surviving policemen said they had begged the American soldiers to stop shooting, screaming in Arabic and English that they were police officers.

But the troops kept firing for between 30 minutes and an hour, they added.

Sorry. I don’t buy it. You know why? First, the ammuntion expenditure would reflect this, if it were true. You know what else would show it? The big smoking crater where these survivors would have died when the Close Air Support and Arty and every other kind of big booming exploding thing within 29 minutes response time hit that spot.

If this had been a 30-60 minute battle, there wouldn’t have been survivors to claim that it lasted that long. What we have here is an Iraqi who has realised two things —

  1. He fucked up big time
  2. He doesn’t want to get blamed (a well heeded desire under the former Baath regime, I’m sure)

That fact that you are still sucking wind belies your story, Mo.