Friday, May 27, 2011

Dear Mavericks and Heat

Think Dirk wants revenge?

*sings* It's the most wonderful time of the year!!!! ... No seriously, from February until June is my favorite time of the year in sports. It's all basketball, all the time. And aside from the occasional run of baseball highlights that serve to make me pull my hair out, the dunks, crossovers, nail-biting vitories and ridiculous action of the NBA is at a fever pitch. That said, the NBA Finals are here and the storylines couldn't be more ripe for the picking. This year's fight for the Larry O'Brien trophy is much more than your average Finals. Why? Three reasons:

1) You Mavs and Heat players both have had quite different seasons.

On the Heat side, you guys came into the regular season with the entire world watching for you to go 82-0. LeBron's incantation that you guys would win multiple championships placed a high bar on you guys. When you took those nasty losing streaks earlier in the season, were stumbling against the upper echelon teams of the league and were having trouble closing out games, I questioned whether you guys had what it takes. Either way, that was the regular season, and now that you've reached the Finals there's no denying that you guys meant business. After making quick work of the Sixers, defenestrating (look that up) the Celtics and stifling the Bulls, it's clear this is a squad that can compete.

In the case of the Mavs, your team had the same predictions placed on you that you've had for the duration of this decade: ehhh, about 50+ wins, an All-Star Season from Nowitzki and an early 2nd to late 1st round exit. You guys had the reputation around the league of being 'soft', and were pretty much written off coing into the Playoffs. Everyone thought the Blazers would upset you, the Lakers would outclass you and the Thunder would outrun you. But looky here... You guys are in the Finals again, and seem more hungry than ever to shake off the naysayers. You guys didn't have the high standards that the Heat had for their season, and by making it to the Finals are making people reconsider picking against you.

2) This series is going to be not only a grudge match, but also a story of redemption.

We all know why LeBron left Cleveland and why Chrissy Bosh left Toronto: the couldn't do it by themselves. And honestly, who could blame them? After seeing the Cavs and Raptors sleepwalk through the regular season like a confused Resident Evil zombie, I can say that I would've left years ago. That said, I was a stark critic on both of you. I questioned whether having to team up with your friends was for the better or worse, only to realize that no NBA team has ever won the 'ship with just one star on their team. You guys have three, all of whom had somewhat fallen from glory; LeBron with his departure from Cleveland, Bosh with his laconic performance in Toronto and Wade two years removed from having the worst record in the league. For you Heat, this series is about making good on your promises of domination and giving the league a reason to believe the hype.

For you Mavericks, this is like the NBA version of 'The Replacements'. A bunch of rag-tag veterans, cast off from other obscure teams, and Playoff contenders' benches mashed together to make a championship-caliber team. J-Kidd will be the oldest point guard to ever start in the NBA Finals, having been written off as a game-changer after his controversial trade from New Jersey. Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic, once perennial All-Stars in Phoenix and Sacramento, have settled into being comfortable role-players who somehow come up with big plays when you need them. Even Jason Terry, once heralded as the next great point guard out of Arizona, has made himself instant offense in Dallas after a disappointing run in Atlanta. Tyson Chandler is the definition of an prep-to-pros bust, but has created a niche for himself as a prime defender. And Finally, Dirk Nowitzki, the 7-footer whose leadership has been questioned constantly since Dallas' Finals collapse in '06 and first round upset in '07, has returned to the promised land. Mavericks, you have been given a second chance at greatness, something that few players are afforded.

3) This is a grudge match.

Never mind that Dallas beat Miami twice this season. This series is a grudge match from 2006 for both of your franchises' faces. Dirk Nowtizki, you know you've got 2006 looming over your head, and Dwyane Wade wants to remind you of it. There won't be any punches pulled here. While this series might not have any of the hatred or genuine dislike for each other that the Heat/Celtics or Spurs/Lakers, make no mistake about it. Both of you are going to come out firing. Neither of you are looking to make friends this Finals, and people are going to be surprised at how physical this series will get from the first tip-off. I wouldn't be surprised if there were mroe than a few technicals, and some extremely chippy play. The American Airlines Arena and Center (you think they planned that?) are going to be madhouses starting Tuesday. I hope you guys are ready. Play on!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (5/26)

*does Diddy Remix dance*

#taxationwithrepresentation 102 Things NOT To Do If You Hate Taxes

#interninginhell Five Myths About Internships

#acquirewealthdisrespectwomen How to Start a Business in 10 (not so easy) Steps

#abandonedplaylists Study: 81% of iTunes Collections Never Get Played. Ever...

#twoplustwoequalsshoe? House of Reps Denies Link Between Extreme Weather and Climate Change

#nojobforyou Many With New College Degree Find the Job Market Humbling

#celebratingdeath Why The Reaction to Bin Laden's Death Proves We're Screwed

#Palinsacheater Rigged Polls, Broken Laws: Inside the Palin Tell-All

#amberalertFTW Mark Zuckerberg: Children Should Be Allowed to Use Facebook

Chiddy Bang - Guinness Flow


Chiddy Bang - Guinness Flow

Jumpy Xaphoon Jones instrumentals? Check. Chiddy spitting venom about his Guinness World Record-winning longest freestyle ever? Check. With the summer coming, there seems to be another wave of new music on the horizon, and Chiddy Bang is one of those acts that has been delivering the funk as of late. Their new project Peanut Butter & Swelly is off to a swell start, if I do say so myself. Like I said before, great production and dope lyricism are a simple combination, but make for excellent hip-hop. There's not much more you can say about it. Check out the first release from PB&S, and stay tuned. Summer is going to sound awesome...

Dear Mike Brown


via Sports Illustrated:
The Los Angeles Lakers have reached an agreement in principle with former Cleveland coach Mike Brown to succeed Phil Jackson, the team said Wednesday.

"We've met with Mike and are very impressed with him,'' said a statement issued by the Lakers. "In addition, we have an outline for an agreement in place and hope to sign a contract within the next few days.''

Brown will get a four-year deal worth roughly $18 million, a person with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the Lakers hadn't yet formally hired Brown.
Coaching changes are always a mixed bag in the NBA. We tend to think that when a coach leaves a team, the coach either has nothing more to work for with that franchise. And we tend to think that when a coach is ousted or gets fired, that the team wants nothing more to do with that coach. In the case of the Los Angeles Lakers, who not only were ousted from the NBA Playoffs in a pathetic fashion, but also let the legendary Phil Jackson leave in a blaze of embarrassment, there is a hailstorm of questions surrounding their situation. Kobe Bryant is a year older, with his 15-year career beginning its twilight. Pau Gasol was exposed for his lack of testicular fortitude against the great Dirk Nowitzki. Ron Artest clearly needed a few more sessions with his psychiatrist. Lamar Odom Kardashian was too busy tweeting and doing reality TV to matter, and Andrew Bynum made more waves with his ridiculous flagrant foul than his play on the court. The Lakers were little more than a talented team with a huge identity crisis and too many conflicting personalities.

That said, with your principal agreement to become the head coach of the Lakers, you, Mike Brown, have become the latest coach associated with a fall from glory to get a crack at an already established team. Such a responsibility should be a difficult one, but with your handling of the Cleveland Cavaliers two years ago, I actually have faith in your abilities. Yes, you still have the offensive capabilities of Shaq from the three-point line. Yes, you still have the LeBron-sized shadow of LeBron's departure from Cleveland. But you did have your bright spots in Cleveland. You made it to the Playoffs every year of your tenure. Defensively, your Cavaliers were one of the best defensive teams I've ever seen. I don't even know how you did it, though. The only two stoppers on those squads were Anderson 'Wacka Floppa Flame' Varajao and LeBron. You had an anemic Zydrunas on the court and Mo Williams is a non-factor at times. Let's call a spade a spade. You squeezed more out of those Cleveland Cavaliers teams than Diddy out of Biggie's legacy. It was like you were cooking an 8-course meal out of a burger patty and a few grains of rice.

With those successes, how are you not considered a good coach? In an NBA (and sports) environment where coaches rotate constantly, you were some form of consistency. You crafted the Cleveland Cavaliers from the basement of the NBA to a constant in the headlines. Most of it was due to LeBron, but how many stars fail to succeed because of the coaching staff around them? My guess is more than we think. Additionally, that you could handle the spotlight of the Chosen One might be the best sign for the star-studded circus that is the Lake Show. At the same time, Kobe might do his best spoiled superstar impression (again) and you might have some problems on your hands. I suppose we won't know until next season, if we have one. Either way, you didn't need an invitation, Mike. If the Lakers call you for a coaching vacancy, only a crazy person would turn it down.

PS: One tip, though: Get rid of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes. Those guys are the latest championship stowaways and it's clear they're deadweight. Get real with those two.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kendrick Lamar - HiiiPower (Music Video)

Gee golly wilikers... I know not whether to go outside, guns ablaze and start a violent revolution, or to go inside and read more books to start an intellectual revolution. Kendrick Lamar has been a mainstay in my rotation as of late, with his OverlyDedicated mixtape growing on me daily. Add to that, the J. Cole-produced banger HiiiPower??? Come on, son... K. Lamar (as reluctant as I am to claim this) might be the next to blow. Forget the West Coast that is primarily about gang-banging. This Compton representer has conscious crossover written all over him. Not to mention, his visuals have been as compelling as I've seen in the past year or so. The video for HiiiPower juxtaposes an army behind K. Lamar with a barrage of images championing the revolutions going on in the Middle East, and those that went on in our own country over half a century ago. Enough talk, though. Check the video, and be on the lookout for #Section80...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dear Tyler the Creator

If this picture doesn't say it, then nothing does...

No, this isn't a review. There are too many of those floating around, and with the uniqueness of your work, there really isn't a perspective out there that I trust other than my own. I suppose that is the mark of a 'game-changer'. *cringes* If there was a resounding opinion on Goblin, I'd be less likely to write this letter, as no one would be able to differentiate mine from the sea. Rather, this letter is a barometer of sorts; an understanding of how your album, your presence, and what you stand for stand to make waves in the hip-hop industry.

Tyler, I am by no means a fan of your work. Too often, I feel that your macabre and grotesque imagery is done for shock-value and is indicative of your young age. However, I see its appeal for the masses of Odd Future faithful that have appeared over the past year. You cater to a crowd that is internet-savvy, but weary of the structure that the 'blog game' places on the hip-hop industry. Rather than kow-tow to the likes of NahRight 2DopeBoyz and whatever other website, you staunchly disowned them, essentially slandering them constantly. It got to a point where you had the oft-disparaging Eskay (nobody really likes him anyway) engaging in a long Twitter tirade about how much he disliked you, simply because you had gotten to the pinnacle of hip-hop stardom without a virtual cosign from him or the other new hip-hop pundits. Rather than whore yourself through generic press releases done by some PR guy who has no connection to OFWGKTA, you made your sound speak for you, something that most artists have forgotten to do in this 'blog age'.

That you and Odd Future have kept the group a close-knit band of wily, angry teenagers serves to enforce this 'us against the world' mentality that makes you unique. It serves as a bastion of unity, an 'us' in a sea of 'me's' that dominates hip-hop. I've called hip-hop over the past two years an 'arms race of collectives', yet most of the big groups are a mish-mash of different sounds put together for the sole purpose of making money and promotion. Let's be honest. Wale and Meek Mill might be cool on wax, but aside from their MMG imprint, the two have little in common. Drake, Nicki and Wayne are three breeds of rapper being kept in the same kennel. And though all of GOOD Music seem to have similar lyrical abilities, Big Sean's 'swag' stature seems to wane in the shadow of Pusha T's larger-than-life drug raps. Your team's collective sound keeps the outsiders out, and the insiders and fans interested. Never repeating, never re-imagining, always living up to your namesake as a creator, you and your squad have deep wells of inspiration and creativity. It endears the listener because they know you won't be influenced the corporate entities that seem to woo you just for a chance at a chart topper.

Speaking of chart-topping, Goblin debuted at #5 on the Billboard charts. While I'm sure you could give two half-shits about your mainstream standing, as evidenced by you and OFWGKTA's drubbing of FOX News' conservative white reporters, that your name ended up on FOX's clueless lips is evidence enough of how your chaotic style ruffles peoples' feathers. No one knows what you or the Wolf Gang will do next. You don't mirror the rest of the hip-hop world. There is no formula to your madness, which is what makes people tune in. Since the turn of the new year, few if any hip-hop acts have registered on my radar because they all follow formulas.

In a sea of generic, monochromatic goons all searching for beats from the same producers and visuals from the same artists, you've become the technicolor goblin with a squad of monsters behind you just waiting to kill them all. Even as the 'urban' *gags at MTO* and mainstream media catches on, and as most fail to find your true 'niche', it's obvious that categorizing you is pointless. You don't color within the lines. You've already broken any box you could be put in, and shattered any comparisons that could be made. This is all while gaining the adoration of a like-minded, school-hating, establishment-gagging, sneaker-clad army of wolves shouting 'swag!', not as a banner, but as a mockery of the industry that has come to emulate itself so much that the few originators don't even know what to do anymore. Do I 'like' your music? Mehhh... Yet, no one can ever deny the ripples that you and the Wolf Gang are causing, one mosh pit at a time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

BitCoins: The World's 1st Digital Currency

With the current world economic climate, it's becoming clear that the American dollar, among other currencies, is becoming weaker and weaker as our domestic and foreign policies continue to falter. As this happens, inflation rises, prices go up and income goes down, the world looks for a new way to acquire goods. In the beginning days, everyone provided for themselves, and bartered for everything else. If you didn't have it, someone else did, and you'd better have something that they wanted if you wanted it. Then came bullion or gold used as a medium for transaction, where the weight of the gold indicated its value. As the world began to run short of gold, they began using fractional value to create the paper money that we use today. Finally, as paper money grew thin, the credit market arose so that if you didn't have it now, you could pay it back later (debatable). Now that the credit market is beginning to fall apart due to speculation and over-borrowing, it seems as if online is the way to go, as is the case with most things nowadays.

Enter BitCoins: the world's first digital currency. The coins are generated through an algorithm that will only allow for 21 million by 2040. Additionally, bitcoins can’t be frozen (like a PayPal account), can’t be tracked, can’t be taxed and have extremely low costs as opposed to credit. The resulting feeling is that bitcoins will be a viable alternative to physical or credit-based money, given the world governments don't crack down on them, which is becoming more likely as of late. PayPal and the credit card companies have already halted their transfer, as they cannot (or do not want to) exchange currencies legally. Additionally, governments seem poised to take action against them because bitcoins completely eradicate the need to use gold or federally-based forms of currency. Also, at around $6.70 per bitcoin, the average person would never take that risk. Yet the idea is an enthralling one. It's taking the power away from the government and putting it in the hand of the user. Also, it can be used on the black market to buy anything from drugs to playing poker, so the government also has vested interest in taking them out. Overall, I can see this idea only taking shape if governments are willing to admit that their money is losing its worth. Maybe by that time, I'll have saved up enough bitcoins where I won't need dollars...

On Hip-Hop, Conservative America, and the 'Man's' Worst Fears

Remember that kid on the playground who could never win an argument? You know... The one who, when backed into a corner about the original amount of Pokemon (there were 151), would counter back with something to the effect of:

- 'but you have cooties!'
- 'I am rubber and you are glue.. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!'
- 'I'm telling Ms. (insert teacher) that you guys are cheating!'
- 'your momma!'

*rolls eyes* I can already feel the childhood urge to exclude him bubbling up. No one likes to be wrong. That said, the kid who can never be wrong no matter how idiotic his argument seems never dies. He grows up and either becomes an award-winning debater, a sufferer of dissociative identity disorder, or, best-case scenario, a (usually) conservative political pundit.

If there's one thing about conservative political pundits, it's that even when faced with situations that completely mirror those they vilify, they are always holier-than-thou. We could be talking anything from.. oh, I don't know... imperialism (#shoutout to Iraq and Afghanistan), personal liberties (word to the Patriot Act), or hell, even a rapper performing at the White House.

Enter Common. Now Common, in most educated circles, is about as safe a rapper as it gets. Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr's career originated in the chewstick era with his classic 'I Used to Love HER', an ode to a much more respectful and 'down to earth' time in hip-hop, devoid of the corporate influence that dominated the airwaves in 1994. He continued on in that same strain, collaborating with the likes of No-ID, Kanye West, Mos Def, The Last Poets and other hip-hop personalities who could be seen as 'conscious'. In hip-hop circles, if Eminem was is one side of the spectrum, the Common would be the other, speaking on issues affecting black people, political oppression and more or less being a voice of reason.

Conservative America doesn't see it that way however. The term 'rapper' doesn't have levels. It doesn't have shades. It doesn't have different strains. To the average conservative, the term 'rapper' is synonymous with rump-shaking, gunplay, drug-dealing, fatherless homes, and that bass-thumping monkey music that their daughters and sons play at all hours of night. Even if the song is talking about picking daisies and watching Barney with one's little sister, let there be a hard bass-line and a Kay Slay intro. I guarantee you, Bill O'Reilly and his conservative crew will find something to abhor about it. And this is regardless of whether they themselves are listening to what anyone else would consider 'offensive'. Yet, that is the tenet of conservative America: a self-serving bias towards anything that contradicts their strict view of how the world ought to be.

According to the average conservative, Bob Dylan runs the gamut in terms of protest music, Ronald Reagan's economic policies are the Ten Commandments, and a black man has little, if any place in the White House. That last idea continues to be swept under the rug as covert racism. Looking at everything from the Birther movement, to the Deather movement, to the continual dispute of Obama's educational background, it's clear that these controversies are arising not because there is a valid basis for them, but because the man is black. Point blank. Now that most of those arguments have fallen by the wayside, attacking anything coming from Obama that has a 'blackness' to it is the way to go.

When we speak about 'the Man', we speak of the kind of overt hypocrisy seen in the above O'Reilly interview, the posturing of falsehoods for the sake of personal gain, and the fear of anything remotely 'black' in politics. Anything resembling non-Patriotic extremism is seen as a threat to 'the Man's' peaceful existence as a dominant force. Hence why Common's appearance at the White House was such a bone of contention for conservatives. They would rather raise hell on a non-issue than see a rapper, a purveyor of that music they don't understand, perform poetry at the White House. It is the worst fear of conservative America to not be 'in' on something, and rather than try to reason or understand something, they fear and deride it. Rather than see the uplifting or beneficial aspects of something different, they hate it for its divergence from their beliefs. They compartmentalize the powerful rhetoric and wordplay that makes hip-hop great and turn it against us, as if Common joined NWA yesterday and made a song called 'Kill Cops, Stab Whitey and F*ck Reagan'.

It's sickening. As valiant as John Stewart's efforts were, it's clear they have no intention of losing an argument. It's clear Bill O'Reilly is content to fling mud in his dirthole instead of see the merits of open and fair discussion. He would rather pull out the ubiquitous 'Your momma' card and walk away knowing he didn't kow-tow than actually get something done. I'm not sure whether I'm more proud of this moment, or angered. What I do know, however, is that this discourse sheds light on the idiocy and pitiful fear that conservative America has. Chuck D and Public Enemy originated the term 'fear of a black planet'. Even though a black planet isn't what we seek in this day and age, until the kid on the playground will admit he's wrong, that fear will still exist.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (5/16)

#historylesson High Schooler to Bachmann: Let's Debate History

#lifequestions How Long Will You Live? $700 Blood Test Has Answer

#youthexodus 1 in 3 Young New Yorkers Want to Leave State

#bluecollarFTL Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe Advocates for Skilled Laborers

#onherjob Brazilian Woman Wins Right To Masturbate At Work

#outwiththeold Spring Cleaning: 10 Things We Should Get Rid Of

#NoMoneyMoProblems Feds Hit Debt Limit Today

#youbetterwalkyourlittleass That Child is Entirely too Big to be in a Stroller

#foodgasms Men Think About Food As Much As Sex

#genericsummerblockbuster6 How Sequels Are Killing the Movie Business

#Ismelldoomsday Secret Desert Mercenary Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder

#ScienceVsReligion Stephen Hawking: 'There is no heaven; it's a fairy story'

Dear Attraction Theorists

I wish I had this shirt...

via Psychology Today:
Recall that women on average are more physically attractive than men. So women of all races are on average more physically attractive than the "average" Add Health respondent, except for black women. As the following graph shows, black women are statistically no different from the "average" Add Health respondent, and far less attractive than white, Asian, and Native American women.

... What accounts for the markedly lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women? Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women. The mean body-mass index (BMI) at Wave III is 28.5 among black women and 26.1 among nonblack women. (Black and nonblack men do not differ in BMI: 27.0 vs. 26.9.) However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women. Black women have lower average level of physical attractiveness net of BMI. Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in physical attractiveness among women. Black women are still less physically attractive than nonblack women net of BMI and intelligence. Net of intelligence, black men are significantly more physically attractive than nonblack men.

... The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently. Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive. In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive. The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.

I've always been told beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or one man's trash is another man's treasure. That's just how the world works. Subjectivity is the reason rich people don't think they're rich. It's the reason for the difference between Islamic extremists and pacifists. It's the reason you either hate or love people like the Kardashians, Sarah Palin and Rihanna. Subjectivity is the basis of opinions, many of which simultaneously take their root in facts. Yet, one issue that never seems to have any factual basis, no matter who is examining it. That, my friends is attraction.

Attraction theorists, first of all let me ask you this: in the course of civilization, has there ever been one singular, solitary definition of what makes a person attractive? Yes, you can ask a sample of 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 people, but that will never account for the outliers. That will never be able to account for all the people who love black women (raises hand) or those that only like Asian midgets or those that can't stand any race.

How dare you guys compartmentalize black women like that? Since when has the attractiveness of black women been so low? You guys could not have been asking enough people of color, which I say with a grain of salt because people might not always identify with their color. Either way, there will always be people on either side of the fence - who either can't stand or can't resist black women physically. There are also going to be those who like one race a bit more than the next. It's not a question of who is more attractive, just what people like. Subjectivity reigns supreme in the question of attraction, and breaking it down so specifically is essentially pointless.

Second of all, why are you even studying something as trivial as this? This is another case of science trying to over-intellectualize things for the sake of 'knowing' them. You can have your graphs and surveys and numbers and samples. Attraction is probably the most rudimentary instinct that a human can have. Quantifying it does little for humanity other than give schmucks like you a job. There are so many more important breakthroughs that could have been accomplished in the time it took you and your cronies to figure out what gives everyone a woody. Additionally, what does this prove other than there is somewhat of a bias against black women? There's no groundbreaking legislation, medical breakthrough or amazing new revolution that came from this research. It's what we call 'shock science'; research for the sake of research, and you guys are at the top of the totem.

I understand it's only a research study. It probably won't hold any relevance after about a week. Yet research like this only serves to undermine black women even more. You guys hold their stereotypically strong demeanor and voluptuous figures against them as if those qualities are something to be ashamed of. Somewhere there's a black woman eyeing her curves with disdain or vowing to become more submissive just because of 'findings' like this. Why don't you guys put your (sadly worthless) psychology degrees to good use and figure out a basis for racism, or find the root of homosexuality, or decide what exactly constitutes insanity. That'd help society out a lot more than essentially deriding supposed characteristics of black women in the guise of 'science'.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dear John Boehner

via The New York Times:
Speaker John A. Boehner said Monday that Republicans would insist on trillions of dollars in federal spending cuts in exchange for their support of an increase in the federal debt limit sought by the Obama administration to prevent a government default later this year. In his most specific statement to date on what Republicans will demand in the debt ceiling fight, Mr. Boehner told the Economic Club of New York that the level of spending reductions should exceed the amount of the increase in borrowing power.

“Without significant spending cuts and changes to the way we spend the American people’s money, there will be no debt limit increase,” Mr. Boehner told members of New York’s business and finance community. “And cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given.” Mr. Boehner said those cuts should be in the trillions of dollars, not billions. In the speech, delivered ahead of a second round of debt limit negotiations with the White House and Senate Democrats on Tuesday, Mr. Boehner did not provide a timeframe for when the spending reductions would have to be imposed.

His address came after a leading Senate Democrat, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, accused Mr. Boehner of “playing with fire” by holding the debt limit increase hostage to a push for spending cuts and budget restrictions.

“The idea of refusing to raise the debt ceiling should be taken off the table,” Mr. Schumer said in a conference call with reporters before the speech. Mr. Schumer also said he believed that the debt limit increase should be approved by mid-July to reassure nervous credit markets, though the administration has said it can push the deadline into early August.

In his remarks, the speaker expressed strong resistance to the effort by some Senate Democrats and President Obama for an alternative to enacting specific spending cuts as the price for increasing the debt limit: “triggers” that prompt automatic spending reductions and perhaps tax increases if Congress and the White House do not meet targets for lowering the deficit in coming years. That idea has emerged as providing the potential for compromise over the debt increase.

Mr. Boehner said the reductions should be “actual cuts and program reforms, not broad deficit or debt targets that punt the tough questions to the future. And with the exception of tax hikes — which will destroy jobs — everything is on the table.”
These days, government is less about truth, and more about who can spread the most believable lies. That goes for both parties. I try not to put too much faith in the political system at this point, unless I'm voting or seeing where the system is doing its job. That said, in the past year, the tax / spending / debt battle has been one of the most dishonest debates in American history, mostly due to your ignorant postulation, Mr. Boehner.

Leave alone the fact that you're one of those damn, dirty Republicans, whose sole purpose in life for the past 2 years has been to derail anything set forth by Congressional Democrats or President Obama. Forget the fact that your party came into this new century with a national surplus and a Republican president, only to leave with a $15 trillion (and counting) debt. Forget even the fact that your party continually espouses itself as a fighter for the middle class, when through your preferential treatment time and again shows your love for your rich corporate butt-buddies. Just consider this one, solitary truth about the United States budget: our taxes as a nation are at the lowest rate since the 1950s.

And you know it too, Boehner. That's why you continue to push spending cuts to programs that hold together our nation without any promise of compromise. That's why every time the Democrats do grow a pair and push their own spending cuts, you push back with even more grandiose ones. Boehner, for once, can we just look at the raw numbers (the ones your party contracted with outside think-tanks, mind you) and have the TRUTH? I'm tired of seeing mudslinging on both sides. It's not getting our country anywhere, and with every day that passes, the threat of a financial meltdown grows closer. The debt ceiling won't matter if, by the time we fix the ceiling, the cracks have already let a torrential downpour in.

Stop switching the subject to lowering oil prices when you and your party have been caught in bed handing out subsidies and tax breaks to big oil companies. Stop using thinly-veiled religious ideology as reasoning for cuts to Planned Parenthood when, we all know that program is little more than a blip on the national budget. Stop skirting around the issue of military spending, when it's clear that we dole out more for our armed forces than most countries have in the bank! Why are we even considering cuts and drops in education and infrastructure spending? Are you, for such a learned and accomplished public servant, that jaded into believing that trickle-down economics, and not investing in things that will spur innovation and JOBS, actually works? Reagan tried it, both Bush's tried it, and look what happened? DEBT.

John, it's not that I despise you... Well, you're making it hard not to. It's just that you continue to only see one side of the argument that clearly won't work. If we continue to cut things from our government, there will be nothing left to cut. And there certainly won't be much left to tax for anyway, considering our taxes are so low already. Holding the economy hostage like this is a sad reminder of you and your party's short-sighted policies. I shudder to think of where we will end up if you get your way: a desolate, top-heavy, disconnected, disenfranchised, internationally-hated nation with little to us than a name that once held weight. What good is 'balancing the budget' if no one but you, your party and those in your pockets can thrive? This is America, remember? And in America, I seem to remember that A) the truth should always prevail, and B) everyone should have a chance. Your party is ensuring neither is happening...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Singing Telegram: The Notorious B.I.G. - Ten Crack Commandments

What's up people? Today's Singing Telegram is a bit different from the usual. It's not an actual song, but a poetry reading of a song. As normal as it sounds, the reading is done by Adrien Brody, who, up until this point was unbeknownst to me as a Biggie fan. At the Academy of American Poets, Brody recites the late Christopher Wallace's '10 Crack Commandments', citing Biggie as one of 'the most influential poets of his generation'. I can't disagree with him, though I do question whether he did this out of genuine respect, or to see the shocked faces in the crowd. I'll tend to believe the latter, especially as '10 Crack Commandments' is one of my favorite songs, and a pretty good instruction manual when dealing in any type of business. I've taken the liberty of explicating each of Biggie's edicts in much more general terms. It might be better served than spitting them free-form in front of poetry buffs. Listen along, so you get the full effect of these powerful rules.

The Notorious B.I.G. - Ten Crack Commandments

The Ten Crack Commandments:

1. Don't let anyone know what kind of or how much money you possess. There are, at every turn, jealous crooks waiting to steal it from you, whether in courts or on corners. Broadcasting your ends also makes it easier to track and audit them. You don't want the IRS barking up your tree.

2. Keep your plans and movements to yourself. No one likes to have their grand schemes interrupted by gunfire, much less another opportunist running away with your ideas. Additionally, telling more people gives way to the plan losing its general profitability. Too many heads on the bottle makes everyone go thirsty.

3. Don't trust anyone. Anyone has the propensity to double-cross you in the chase for material wealth. Make sure the people you keep around you are trustworthy and strong-minded, so as not to compromise your operation.

4. Avoid shrinkage. Whether it's bean pies, sneakers, stocks or rocks, don't allow your business to be cut into by your vices. Business and pleasure aren't two things that should live together, especially if your business is pleasure.

5. Don't do business where you lay your head. It's a sticky situation waiting to happen if your customers or enemies see you taking showers, watching the game, and selling your wares out of the same location. Not to mention, in the event that your domus is public knowledge, you'll see a spike in how many people you have hanging around. Keep a low profile in person, and habitat.

6. Don't do credit. Cash transactions were the creation of needing a medium for when bartering just didn't do the trick. It's a quick standard that always gets the job done. Credit does nothing but complicate things, especially when it's time to collect.

7. Mixing family and business is almost never a good look. The Godfather trilogy, songs with Beyonce and Solange... the list goes on. If it must be done, keep the circle as small as possible. Think Will Smith and his clan.

8. Don't ever keep your product on you. Police, government regulators, and greedy acquaintances will always find a reason to shake you down. You'd rather not give them any reason for suspicion.

9. Stay away from police. The funny thing about the boys in blue is that they are never around when they need to be, and always around when you want them gone. Don't entertain their witty banter or war stories, much less engage them in an argument. Not only will it arouse the suspicion of your competitors, you're more likely to be implicated if you slip-up.

10. Consignment is a hard thing to juggle. If you're not well-seasoned in your business, buying without the means to pay it back is essentially systematic debt. Rather than bite off more than you can chew and risk losing it all, remember this: slow and steady wins the race. Build your empire, until you are the one people are coming to for ends.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (5/5)

#shoutout to vapid patriotism

#waittillIgetmymoneyright Eight Money Lessons for New College Grads

#longliveMicrosoft Sony Says 25m More Users Hit in Second Cyberattack

#legalizeit Boy with brain cancer 'cured' after secretly fed medical marijuana by father

#babydonthurtme Men Often Say 'I Love You' First

#dryspellFTL I Haven't Had Sex in Five Years. Am I Broken?

#AmericatheVengeful Osama bin Laden's demise in pictures

#workingbetterunderpressure Stressed Out? You'll Learn Better

#cantcatchabreak 'Obama got Osama' won't win in 2012

#WaterworldFTL Arctic Melting Faster Than Expected

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dear J. Cole (re: 'Disgusting')

Don't let the hype exceed the actual product.

I say it all the time in my tweets, and frequently on this blog, but it bears repeating: Novelty, quantity, exclusivity, and hype should never exceed quality, hype especially. These days, however, in our 'I want it now' / 'Did you hear that new' / 'World exclusive' media world, we tend to give credence and the benefit of the doubt to whatever is in front of our faces in that very moment. Whether it be Twitter, blog posts, news stories, that 'bad' joint you saw across the street, or those 'fresh' sneakers in the window display, people will always love the last supposedly hot thing they lay eyes on, regardless of how the quality pales in comparison to what they already know. It's not wrong. It's just human nature. Music, especially today, benefits from that phenomena, with the 'latest offering' getting all types of acclaim. This phenomena usually results in songs being bumped into the ground for 14 minutes and 59 seconds, before the next 'big thing' hits the Interwebs.

I suppose that's why I was so disappointed with your latest offering, J. Cole. Your habitual absence from the Twitterverse was interrupted by a flurry of hyped-up, happy-go-lucky tweets, usually reserved for bad mixtape DJs and shameless promotion. I'll admit, I fell victim to the hype, waiting impatiently for you to drop your new single. As fate would have it, you were on Obama-time with your release of 'Disgusting'... But also, as fate and my lately dead-on intuition would have it, 'Disgusting' was an apt title for one of the worst songs I've heard you put out.

J. Cole - Disgusting

Filled with punchlines and wordplay that Mack Maine would deem Rhodes Scholar-worthy, 'Disgusting' was more a reason for people to keep your name in their mouths. From 'disgusting' fecal matter lines to even more 'disgusting' sight gags of metaphors, the beat might have been the only thing that saved this track. Lines like "Yes, her ass clapping / so that's a round of applause" made me cringe. Really, Cole? You used more curses than thoughts and seemed more content to talk about ejaculation than anything note-worthy. Put simply, there was little if any replay-value, and after the 5th listen, the Recycle Bin had a new entry.

Cole, this was in stark contrast to the first time I heard you, on 'The Warm Up'. Today, still reeling in my disappointment, I cued up that tape and was blessed to hear a hunger and cleverness that was missing on 'Disgusting'. On the track 'Dollar and a Dream II', I was surprised to catch a metaphor that had missed me in over 2 years of bumping the tape:
Aye Sallie, I know I ain't been answering your calls / but shit, let me explain - It's because / times been hard... been runnin around trynna find a job / I hear my phone ringing in the morning, 9 o'clock / And it's you, can't even front I press ignore / I still got your letters laying in my dresser draw / You telling me about all the things you did for me / When I was broke, you sent me dough and that was big for me / See you was there every year when I needed you / And you were so quick to give, I had to be with you / Remember when I used to call you on your phone line / I knew it was official when my momma cosigned / But in no time, a nigga graduated / I hit the real world, baby girl, I'm sad to say it / But I was using you, you gave a nigga major stacks / And I know one day in my heart that I'm gonna pay you back.
Cole, I had NO IDEA that this verse was about college loans. NONE. I've never been so sad to say that a verse flew over my head than today, and it was all because of one word: Sallie. (Readers, if you don't get it, just keep reading/listening until you get the Sallie Mae metaphor) It was a mind-blower to say the least. That you went from 'nigga, rewind that!' verses like that to 'Disgusting' is a let-down. Yes, 'Disgusting' was a b-side and according to most sources won't make the album, but if this is a throwaway track, then what's the rest of the album going to sound like? I'm pretty concerned. I suppose only time will tell.

At the end of the day, I guess 'Disgusting' served its purpose: to get the naysayers about your constant album pushbacks off your back temporarily, but at what expense? Even now, looking at your Twitter page, it's obvious you won't be back on for a while. You were the one who said famously 'Get back to rapping, you niggas tweeting too much'. Having been a firm proponent of killing the hype in favor of an exceptional product, you took a hit in my eyes. Maybe I'm a harsh critic. Maybe Cole World will blow my mind as it should. Maybe it won't, and we'll be talking about another formerly underground rapper who failed to live up to expectations and hype. Few do. At the same time, we can always see it coming. We saw Drake's commercialization from a mile away, and if this is any indication of your future, let me be the first to say it was nice knowing you, Jermaine.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dear Joe Budden


*sigh* I didn't ever want to write this letter. After 'Ordinary Love Sh*t: Part 2' I thought your knack for wifing up buxom beauties with more stars in their hearts than love was gone. Lo and behold, I woke up this morning to a profanity-laced back-and-forth between you and your estranged video model girlfriend Esther Baxter. Something about her cheating on you with while she was pregnant... Not more than a few minutes after that, 'Ordinary Love Sh*t: Part 3' started surfacing around the Interwebs, and I knew something was up.

Joe Budden - Ordinary Love Sh*t - Part 3

Cut to the Frank Ocean 'Novacane' instrumental,
SIDENOTE: Rappers, don't start jumping on the OFWGKTA bandwagon, using their instrumentals, just because the rest of the world is feeling them.
and the listener hears you at your finest: mad. You wax prophetic about past tiffs with Tahiry and how you said you would never doubt your gut feeling again when it came to women. From calling out Derrick Ward for the affair, 2nd and 3rd pregnancies, kids being involved, it was like an episode of Maury that had taken the drug known as Charlie Sheen. The song itself was piff (see last paragraph), yet there is something wrong with letting your laundry fly all over the place, especially when it's the same brand of drawers. #seewhatididthere

My beef, or rather my issue, is this Joey: why do you keep wifing hoes, and expecting less than hoe behavior? As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. In Tahiry's case, I suppose you got a pass, because no one knew who that broad was before she became your arm candy. In Esther's case, we've known about her for years! I was a sophomore in high school when I first remember drooling to Esther's bodacious curves in Petey Pablo's 'Freek-a-Leek' video. It's like Denny Green's famous tirade: (Esther is) who we thought (she was)!! You of all should know that, man. You've been a rapper long enough to know when a woman has little if any intention of being good to you.

That said, Joey, while this type of drama is very unsightly for your public image and overall fandom, as a hip-hop fan, I love it! This is what music is supposed to be about! Raw emotion! Unreserved honesty! No qualms! Forget about who's listening! Just say it! Don't let people ever doubt where your head and heart are at. That's when you turn into B.o.B. and start shooting out undirected diss tracks. One of your strengths as an artist is that you tell it how it is; the hairy, ugly, morbidly obese, clap-infested truth! That you had to endure another public break-up is sad, yes. No one really wants to put their ex on blast... Well, maybe you take solace in that. I suppose we can lament another one of your failed relationships while we laugh at the pure hilarity that is your interview on the Breakfast Club, who seemed just as in awe of your revelations as the rest of the world was...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dear Kardi (re: The Valedictorian)

"F*ckin Shaft music, nigga... No homo"

DOWNLOAD: Kardi - The Valedictorian

There's certain MCs that you can't help but feel. Not because they grew up around the same conditions and in the same circles as you, or because of random references that fly over the heads of most. Some MCs make you feel what they're saying. It's because of their gift for words and ability to paint a picture that draws you to their work and keeps your ears perked up and head nodding. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of listening to your sophomore offering The Valedictorian which arrived in my inbox promptly this weekend. I saw all of the blogs and websites posting it, as per usual with music nowadays, yet no one offered any perspective on it (also becoming the sad norm). Kardi, let me say this: This album made me pine for a time not long ago in time, but far far away in my mind. Being a senior in college and recanting on my time, I can't help but be nostalgic listening to The Valedictorian.

The album starts out on a melodic note, with 'Convocation' sounding off on the aspirations of a high school senior with rap as a goal, but college as a fall back. You sound so hopeful, so filled with joy that one part of your life is closing and another is set to begin. There's an air of arrogance to everything you're saying, clearly derived from being 'America's nightmare: young, black and educated'. At the same time, theres humbleness because you know there's so much more to accomplish, both in rap and school. As a freshman, the possibilities can be so distracting, but there's a main theme to this tape. In being a 'valedictorian,' you espouse focus as a tenet in your rise to the top, something no one seems to talk about. On the track 'Busy' you offer an apology to the people missing you, simply claiming the rigors of a burgeoning rap career and college tenure. It's endearing, especially for anyone who has aspirations that college classes get in the way of.

There's also a nature of duality that The Valedictorian comes with, based on that same battle between academic and non-academic success. Whether in the battle between classes and performances, or trying to keep a steady girlfriend who wants more time than you can give her, balance is necessary, not only as a freshman but as a college student in general. On tracks like 'Black Ferris Beuller' and 'Joke', you don't forget to flex your lyrical muscle, so that it's clear your talent belies your freshman status. Making light of the generation of 'swag' rappers who deem it better to copy than create, you outshine them, showing the Prep for Prep pedigree (P4P stand up!!) that helped to get you to college in the first place.
See, I'm something like a black Ferris Beuller, getting medulla from my tutor while I'm pulling Buddha
Quick bars like seem to roll off your tongue effortlessly, which was impressive. You definitely have a gift for spitting fast. Yet, at times you seemed to get ahead of yourself to the point where I had to rewind songs to catch the full gist of your statements. That's not a bad thing for heads who enjoy listening to rap, but for the untrained ear this might get laborsome. Try and slow down, and with purpose, so we can get the full benefit of hearing what you have to say.

Overall, The Valedictorian put older MCs to shame because it was reminiscent of the freshman perspective, yet showed a wisdom beyond your years. It's not the soulful kind of hip-hop J. Cole puts out. It's much more charismatic, like a freshman extending his hand during orientation. This album had a sound, a feel and a theme to it. It wasn't just a mish-mash of songs thrown together for the sake of it. Much like an undergraduate course of study, there is a plan, and it's clear you're sticking to it, Kardi. Excited for more work from you? I am. Who knows where you'll be in four years, much less one? Just make sure to enjoy the ride, because college moves fast, as do rap careers, though yours doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon...