Archive for ‘trackback’

February 13, 2009

A year and some odd days

Just about a year ago I started this blog. Back then I didn’t know it would last this long. I hoped it would but I just didn’t see how it would. I had a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of fire. I knew that I was too intense at the time and I ran the risk of burning out before I started to see the benefits I longed to see.

I started out like gang busters and I thought that I was going to take on so many problems at once. I definitely bit off more than I could chew and while I tried recruiting others to help me, it was very difficult for me to articulate my vision enough to share it. So, it didn’t work like I thought it would and I figured it was doomed.

Yet here I am a year later and the dream is still alive. Above all, I have grown more in this last year than at anytime I can remember. As a result, I am more focused in on what this is about, what I try to be about. The Round Table doesn’t have all the answers. It is about a search for the answers. It is about a sort of think tank. My vision is to get people interested and involved and by doing that, get them thinking of ideas and solutions. I am also about bringing people on board that have their own ideas since there are other viewpoints and perspectives that I might otherwise not think of.

Here’s to another year and better results than the past one.

Advertisements
December 1, 2008

When enough isn’t enough

Juliet Schor in her book “The Overspent American” talks about the current American culture being one of over consumption. She makes her case by providing evidence that the “average American now finds it harder to acheive a satisfying standard of living than 25 years ago.” She points out that despite the fact that we are working harder and for longer hours, making more money and buying more stuff, we aren’t satisfied with what we are spending it on. She also argues that consumption in this country is social, we are trying to keep up with other people or we simply buy things because it is the thing to do. A country as rich as ours shouldn’t be looking to get more money, instead we should be spending time figuring out how to spend it more wisely. Of course this is made infinitely more difficult because billions of dollars are spent every year to convince us to spend money on what we don’t need. Schor’s book came out in 1999 so things are probably worse now than they were with her research.

It can clearly be seen in the economic mess that we are in. It wasn’t that people didn’t know that something like this was bound to happen. Instead, we were all content on trying to accumulate more and more stuff with every single extra dime we made. You might think that you are immune to this because you didn’t lose your house and could afford to pay for it, but just consider just how much debt you are in. Americans are up to their eyeballs in debt and for what? A bigger car with speed and power that we don’t need? A house that is bigger than what we actually use? How many countries around the world actually have a full fledged storage business? Think about that for a second. We have so much stuff, that we actually have to pay someone else to store it for us.

I am not going to keep harping on all our excesses. Smarter and much wiser people than me have written about that ad nauseum. My focus is on the what now? Is this something we can’t fix because it is too much a part of our system? Is it just the curse of capitalism? I don’t think so. I think we can take back our wallets and fight this extreme consumerism. The first step would be changing our priorities. We need to get away from trying to find self worth from what we buy. We need to stop trying to keep up with other people and focus more on what we need. It doesn’t make sense to me for a father to pull 60 hours a week working just so he can afford a huge house when he can cut those hours in half and spend more time with his family. We should put our money into things that matter like our schools etc., instead of buying that new car. Or maybe I am just in denial.

September 18, 2008

Drill baby Drill? Really?

I know I have been staying away from discussing politics and dealing with the pending election but after I heard the Republicans chant “drill, baby, drill” over and over again at the Republican National Convention I couldn’t resist this post. That chant gave me chills and not in a good way.

I honestly don’t believe that the republicans really want to drill. They just can’t possibly believe that this is the solution to the energy problem we have right now. They have to be using this as a ploy to get their base energized and hopefully pull out this election. Right? I mean there are just so many reasons not to drill that I don’t even know where to start. Perharps this analogy will help.

Imagine a woman that is morbidly obese. Her weight is at the point where her Doctors are starting to worry about her health. She literally has to lose weight or she’ll die. Obviously she has to start exercising. She should probably also get on a diet. That would be the smart way to go. Now imagine that instead of her Doctors advicing her to lay off junk food they encourage her to eat more of it. Infact they insist that she triple the amount of junk food that she consumes. They figure that if they encourage her to keep on binge eating and even provided her with more junk food she would somehow realize that she is eating herself to death and lay off the junk food and eat healthier.

How much sense does that make? We are in this mess because of our dependence on oil and the rate at which we consume it. We were bound to run into this problem at some point. Our cars these days are packed with Horsepower. Even vehicles that traditionally didn’t need that amount of power now have it. In the bid to make faster cars we sacrificed efficiency. Back in the day, 25 miles per gallon was regarded as an efficient car. These days, people eat it right up. Factor in the fact that everybody has a car or three and we had it coming.

First of all, oil is a natural resource that can run out. It isn’t something that you can keep milking and expect it to replenish itself. Secondly, with the huge demand that existed here, we played into the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)’s hands as well as every other country that produces and exports oil. We became slaves and addicts to the good liquid. They could now afford to raise gas prices because they knew we didn’t have other alternatives.

The solution to high gas prices therefore is to start investing in alternative sources of energy. Wind energy, solar power, etc. It can be done. If T. Boone Pickens, a man who built his entire empire on oil can lead the charge towards alternative sources (in this case wind energy), then we should capitalize on that. Trying to solve this crisis by drilling for more oil isn’t the answer. Use the money for research on other alternatives. Give auto makers tax breaks for creating more efficient cars (not hybrids). The nation is feeling the sting of gas prices so this is the time to strike while the proverbial iron is hot. If the gas prices go down, then people will just turn a deaf ear on the issue and go back to guzzling massive amounts of gas. No Drilling. Not now.

September 14, 2008

Where do the people fit in all this?

First of all I would like to thank rawdawgbuffalo for his unwavering support and kindness. You are a good man. And a shout out to Tera for the love. Your words were very encouraging to me and it is always refreshing to have people rooting for you.

Let me now stress that it is late and I should either be in bed or be at a club or something. Afterall, I am a 20 something and this is Saturday night/ Sunday morning. I shouldn’t even be tackling a serious subject such as this one but I have been bouncing it around in my head and I am sick of procastinating. Like I said in my last blog, I had two people recently join me in my vision and we are working together to bring it to life. As we were thinking of new ideas and what direction to go, one of them posed this question to me randomly and seemingly off topic; “what are your thoughts on McCain and VP running mate?”

Well, I haven’t given her my answer yet. You see, I am sick of this whole election thing. I am sick of the big circus around the two parties. I am sick of the drama, the theatrics, the high wire act, the lies, the attack Ads and the politics. Truth be told, I was sick of it as early as the Democratic Primaries. I got fed up as I watched Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama duke it out. It became about them and less about what America needed. The same holds true for John McCain and his pick of Sarah Palin. He didn’t pick Palin because she was capable. He didn’t pick Palin because he thought she’d make a good Vice President, he picked Palin because he wanted to win an election. I find all of it disgusting.

Lost in all of this is the voice of the people. Lost in all of the hoopla is the fact that we live in a country that is supposed to be democratic. Government of the People for the People and by the people. Do we have the ear of Washington? Obama can you hear the frustration? McCain can you see the despair? Do you understand that there are hardworking families out here, who work three or four jobs just to survive on the barest of minimums. Can you feel that our system of education is broken and that lots of students continue to slip through the cracks? Do you know that important programs are being cut from our schools to divert funds to other things?

I could go on and on but these are some of the issues that are important to me. This is why I am doing what I am doing. I am tired of waiting on the system to realize that it is decaying from the inside. While they try to figure and sort out who the next president is going to be, I am going to spend my time taking on these tough questions. I don’t know that I can ever solve them but I am not going to just ignore them. For one, I know I am doing the right thing and I also know that I am not alone. I hope the next president will take it back to the basics and what matters; Americans. Meanwhile, wake me up when they get to the important stuff.

July 12, 2008

Dude where’s my music?

I haven’t heard a remotely decent record in so long. Well scratch that, I picked up Lupe Fiasco’s latest offering, “The Cool”, about two months ago and that was hot. I also got Lil Wayne’s “Carter III” and I honestly wasn’t that impressed. Maybe it was because it had already been over hyped on the airwaves. Either way, I am yet to sit through the whole album.

The problem with music these days is that it has lost track of its most powerful pull; the ability to relate and be related to. You see, when 2pac was talking about the “Rose that grew out of the concrete” we all knew what he was talking about. On the other hand, I have never made it “rain on any hoes” a la Fat Joe and I can’t dream of owning a Maybach (shout out to Rick Ross). Hip hop may not be dying but it is definitely on life support. This goes past hip hop though. Lets take a look at some award winning lyrics from a recent R & B hit by Ray-J “Sexy Can I”.

Sexy can I, just pardon my manners. Girl how you shake it, got a playa like (ohhhh) It’s a kodak moment, let me go and get my camera All I wanna no is, sexy can I. Sexy can I, hit it from the front, then I hit it from the back. know you like it like that. then we take it to the bed, then we take it to the floor then we chill for a second, then were back at it for more.

Ladies, you swooning yet? Someone should tell my man Ray that R & B stands for Rhythm and Blues. I am just tired of waiting for someone to make something that is well thought out and shows more than minimal effort. I miss the days when rap, hip hop, and rock tried to change the world. Those days when musicians held a mirror up to society and raged “against the machine”. Maybe I am just getting old but that was music. These days music like that is only found deep, deep, underground and I am not in the mood to dig. Well, maybe I’ll make a record.

June 19, 2008

Brother, where is the revolution?

“Death is on the tip of her tongue and danger’s at the tip of her fingers, streets are on fire tonight”-Lupe Fiasco (The Cool).

Gas prices high, war raging in Iraq, inflation, stock market issues, housing market tanking, dollar value going down, down, down, what did I miss?

You get the point. Things just seem to be all bad in this country that everyone now seems to expect the bad. Quite a few times in the past month, I have been engaged in conversation with people and they often punctuated their statements with “the way things are going”……. So where exactly are things going and how can we go back to taking things back to the way they were.

“The way they were”. Were things really better in our past than they are right now? After all, were we not the country of robber barons and inequalities, racial strife and discrimination, classism etc? Yet the general consensus seems to be that things are getting worse.

Tons and tons of books have been written hashing and rehashing this fact. The politicians, the experts in the media, the businessmen, all talking about the same thing; restoring America’s greatness. But I can’t help but wonder; do we even care anymore? Are we so jaded now that we don’t even believe we can make a difference? Or are we just too comfortable in our own skin and our everyday lives? In this day and age where we have the power of the internet and advanced technology and where more people can be reached easier and faster, what have we achieved? Is there ever going to be a change or do we now have too much to lose?

May 1, 2008

Creating a straw man out of Reverend Wright

Much has been made out of the fact that Reverend Jeremiah Wright is Barack Obama’s ex pastor or current pastor. Who knows? Apparently your pastor isn’t allowed to have his own opinions if you are running for president since he might be a political liability.

Listen, I don’t agree with Reverend Wright or his opinions. But he has his right to express them. Its called a freedom of speech. It shouldn’t affect Obama’s qualifications to be president. Why is there such a double standard in this country? I am not going to go into George W. Bush’s history but suffice to say that he was friends with shadier men than Reverend Wright.

The issue here isn’t about Reverend Wright’s politics at all. Make no mistake about it, this is about Barack Obama’s candidacy. Obama has been hitting a note with a lot of people with his message of change and being a Washington outsider. He hasn’t been squeaky clean but none of the mud slinging has stuck so far. So what to do?

The old straw man tactic. The straw man argument is when a person can’t win a debate against you so they set up a weaker version of your stance and then try to attack it. In other words, they set up a straw man version of your argument and then attack the straw man. Reverend Wright has become Obama’s straw man. Of course, Obama’s opponents know that he doesn’t believe in the same ideas as Reverend Wright but maybe just maybe they can use him to create doubts about Obama. So far, they have been accomplishing just that.

Meanwhile, Reverend Wright isn’t helping the cause at all. He insists that he isn’t running for president. This is true so he should help Obama out by being quiet and staying low for now. But he refuses to stop. He seems to be enjoying the limelight. I have nothing against him but I just feel that he should help his friend and avoid controversy. For now.

April 24, 2008

The Power of Sports

Here at the round table, we are all about bringing change and positively affecting the world in one way or another. So when I found this article on ESPN.com, I simply knew I had to share. Afterall, this is what it is all about. Some of Lee Garston and Christina Piranio’s story is highlighted by this youtube video . Amazingly, the article got no love on ESPN. Articles about athletes behaving badly or getting traded or other useless information stay on the front page and are viewed and commented a lot. We just have things backwards these days.

I got to watch Kobe Bryant do his thing last night. 49 points and10 assists and it looked like he did it all without even exerting himself. It was almost like I saw it coming at halftime. I watched his halftime interview and Craig Sager asked him if he was going to change anything when Kenyon Martin came off the bench and got on him again? Craig was trying to point out that Martin was their ace defender and was bigger than Kobe so technically should give him problems. Kobe responded by saying something that as a Laker fan I have come to know as vintage Kobe. “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it is Kenyon Martin or anybody else”. I remember believing him. I remember thinking that if this were any other player, I’d wonder if they weren’t putting their foot in their mouth. With Kobe, it just fits. You get the sense that he always has more tricks up his sleeves. Then he went out there and proved it by racking up assists and the rest of his 49 points. I just can’t imagine anyone else in the league being able to say that with such confidence and know he would back it up.

Having said that, can anyone else explain why J.R. Smith would try to rile him up? What was the purpose of that? It only got Kobe angrier and turned Smith into a victim as Kobe got by him on the next possession, scoring and getting fouled on an and 1 play. Why, J.R.? Take it from the man himself; “Better learn not to talk to me,” Bryant said. “You shake the tree, a leopard’s gonna fall out.” Indeed.

April 16, 2008

It has been a while brethren

Indeed it has been. I hadn’t abandoned this place, my world just got so hectic that it had to go on the backburner for a while. A long while. I am back though and I am itching to make up for lost time.

There is a lot to talk about. First of all, I hope you guys will forgive my absence. It wasn’t planned out to be that way but everything happens for a reason or so they say.

I am yet to fully get over UCLA’s loss in the final 4 (again!!) to Memphis. Congratulations are in order to Rawdawg whose boys made it to the championship game only to lose to Kansas. Still a great season for them regardless. I am looking forward to next season and hoping that Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Darren Collison are staying. That would definitely put us over the top with the great recruiting class we have coming in.

I miss football. I know I broke up with her but I miss her already. Yes I know I am a Rams and UCLA fan and football hasn’t been our strong suit for a few years now but a man can hope right?

I am bored with the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton race. Somebody win already so we can get to the part where they actually face John McCain. Here in California we are dealing with intended budget cuts especially in education. We have been fighting against that and hoping Arnold doesn’t go through with it. But thats a subject for another day.

March 15, 2008

NBA MVP. Kobe over Lebron

Sometime last week my brother took the time to call me up. He was in a panic. He had this to say; ESPN is starting to hype up Lebron James over Kobe for M.V.P. I assured him that it wasn’t going to happen. I told him that ESPN was only hyping LBJ because he had just dropped 50 points the day before. Don’t get me wrong, Lebron is a worthy candidate but I don’t think he should be given M.V.P over Kobe Bryant or even Chris Paul.

Everytime it was Kobe’s turn to win M.V.P, the media has come up with some reason not to give it to him. My favorite one is the ever popular; “he is the best player in the world but he isn’t the most valuable player”. Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t M.V.P supposed to be handed to the best player? All those years Jordan was winning them, was he the best at making his teammates better? Wasn’t it just his pure dominance, his motion that was straight poetry and his charisma off the court. In fact, didn’t Jordan’s team do pretty well without him when he went off to play baseball?

Don’t even get me started on this myth of making your teammates better. It is more like working with your teammates and not making them better. You are a team so by playing your role you are making the team work. Your teammates make themselves better by putting in work and in turn you trust them with the ball. No amount of passing is going to make a person make a wide open shot unless they have practiced that shot by themself. Yet this was the rationale given for wresting it away from Kobe all this time.

To show how inconsistent this award is, Steve Nash won it two times in a row and then went ahead and posted better numbers than he had those two years but it was given to someone else. Why? Well they just didn’t want to give it to him three years in a row. The M.V.P should just go back to being what it used to be; the best player that season and not a popularity contest. It isn’t Mr. Congeniality or M.L.P (Most Liked Player).

This season, Kobe has become the leader that he supposedly wasn’t all those years. He has drastically reduced his shot attempts and is averaging more assists. However, the mistake that most people are making is assuming that more assists means he is passing the ball more. Kobe had always passed the ball. The difference is that his teammates are making those shots on a consistent basis. He is also very tenacious on defense when he is locked in and he is playing with an injury that would otherwise require surgery. Input the fact that he is still the best player in the league (Lebron being a close second) and he should be a run away winner. Why shouldn’t Lebron win it? Well because Lebron’s team is in the Eastern Conference and still isn’t doing as well as Kobe’s. Look how tough the West is and don’t even bother comparing it with the east. Game over.