Monday, January 31, 2011

Facebook Envy: Scientific evidence that Facebook Ruins Lives

I don't hide my disdain for Facebook. I think it's really invasive: time-consuming and increasingly robs you of your privacy. And it is, quite rudely, becoming complicated as hell. A recent Stanford University study  says that Facebook makes people unhappy and spurs "Facebook Envy". Oh Facebook envy! I often remark 'Life looks great on Facebook' as people take out time to paint pretty pictures of their lives and Facebook gives these individuals a great platform to broadcast carefully crafted versions of themselves.

The researchers had one amazing but not surprising finding. People create these impressions of themselves to suppress negative feelings about themselves. The more folks try to hide the truth by portraying a lie, the "lonelier and dissatisfied" their peers feel. But isn't that the point anyway? Why else would people go through all that effort?

The saying "don't judge your inside based on someone else's outside" is very true. And be weary of people who feel it necessary to post and tag everything. Photos are easy to upload and foreclosure signs are easy to crop out.
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Finally

I have fixed my comments function on my page. Took a few hours...but now it works!!
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Honestly, I had never seen a food stamp either and you haven't seen a Naira

One of the recent episodes of Basketball Wives (if you don't watch it, good for you. Reality TV is my vice) one of the characters Tami voiced that she had to receive food stamps after divorcing her NBA player husband and another character Jenn, responds that she had never seen a food stamp. This causes quite a stir later as Tami took it as a classist jab. Instead of letting it go, Tami later confronts Jenn. It wasn't a good look.

I attended a gathering yesterday and this episode, among many, was a topic of discussion. I rarely hang with co-workers outside of work... there aren't many I would like to 'hang' with ...so I was very excited to be there. Of course I laughed as we discussed how silly the conflict was, knowing very well I myself, had not seen food stamps either. In a later episode Jenn brings Tami what I thought were pictures of food stamps as a way to make up. So to mask my ignorance I say what I do know, "aren't they EBT cards now?"  So having someone explain to me that food stamps used to be gigantic and then became a book of coupons means that my ignorance was on full display. *shrugs*  Actually, I'm really tickled.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When being mean-spirited on eBay goes bad

I hate to loose. Like many of those suffering from type-A personalities, I can easily imagine the most ordinary happenstance a competition. When I am limited by my abilities to win this imaginary competition conceived out of the incessant need for self-validation...I get a little mean. I'm working on it.

So eBay may not be the best place to lurk during your down time and I have fallen to temptation once again. I was bidding on a black croc-embossed leather handbag that I already own in red only to engage in a bidding war with another individual. Being limited by my current purse strings I was not willing to bid over a certain point for a bag that I ALREADY own just to throw it in my heap of black leather handbags. But instead of conceding the bid war, like a normal person...I felt since I couldn't have the bag, the other individual should have to pay a great deal for it. So I pushed and pushed until I was the highest bidder. *Yes!*

But the other individual didn't counter bid. *Damn!*

So now I am sitting here watching the clock run on a bag that I wouldn't buy in the store for that price...BECAUSE I ALREADY HAVE IT IN RED!

Like I said...I'm working on it.
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How Do I Reach These Kids?

I teach the intro to African American Studies course at one of the universities here in Florida and most of the time I find it incredibly fufilling. It is the perfect platform to promote the Pan-African perspective.
On other days, much like this one I am a little discouraged about my ability to impart knowledge to 18-23 year olds.

I am overwhelmed actually. At times I am overwhelmed with how much they do not know as I am fully aware that this may be their only chance to be exposed to it. I am overwhelmed with how much they don't care to know. I have a fantastic group of students this semester and it's a racially mixed bunch. However, collectively their world seems to be limited to BET, VH1, MTV etc. In my many attempts at relatability I made reference to the Real Housewives franchise that's a big hit at BravoTV. Unfortunately the vast majority of the students ONLY watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta. *Ugh* They chose to limit the way they view the world.

Last lecture we discussed Africa prior to slavery and colonization. While this is just an intro course, I didn't even touch the tip of the iceberg. And I truly felt that after a full lecture, that I hadn't given them enough. So I asked "Is there anything else that you would like to know about Africa prior to slavery and colonization"?

*crickets* 
I mean dead silence. Because the history of Blacks only involves their subjugation...

Frustrated AND overwhelmed.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mother Jailed for Sending Child Falsely to a Better School District

I came upon this story today

A mother used her children's father's address to send them to a better school than the one her home was zoned in.

This happens everyday. Hell, I have a number of close friends that used their Grandmothers' address to gain access to the better schools in my hometown. We can't blame this lady for trying to give her children a better opportunity. Many of us aren't even in the place to judge as we would pay to have any relative zoned for the good school.

Unfortunately, "better" and "good" schools are just euphemisms for white schools. And that mother looking to give her children the opportunity for a better education is a poor black woman that instead of accepting her circumstance chose to defraud the school system and send her children to the "white school".

I am unsure how to feel about this. I believe in school choice but am not in support of school vouchers as school districts often have a dollar amount alloted for each school per student. Therefore, this woman sending her daughters to the better, rich school actually contributes to her home school's lack of resources. Secondly, fraud is fraud. She is guilty of fraud, just as my friends who used their grandmothers' addresses to attend the schools with working water fountains, a swim team, and textbooks they could actually take home.


Judge Patricia Cosgrove gave the mother, Kelly Williams-Bolar 10 days in jail, two years of probation and ordered her to complete 80 hours of community service. This is completely ridiculous and is obviously meant to send a message...

But all I hear is "don't try to send your kids to the white--I mean rich school and get your nasty poor people breath all over our kids. We have no respect for the less advantaged for you are all expressed or latent thugs and we will treat you as such."

I hear you Akron, Ohio.

[photo via NewsOne]
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Is there any good news in Detroit?

From the auto industry meltdown in the recent years, to their former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's incessant corruption accusations/convictions/ embarrassments to the current tales of the city's school system dancing with bankruptcy--- little good has been told about Detroit lately. Once the fifth largest city in the nation, Detroit is currently number 11 and continues to shrink. The decline of the motor industry has dramatically changed the state of Michigan as a whole. The famous documentary Roger & Me by Michael Moore chronicles the degradation of Flint Michigan due to the closure of a GM plant. It was really sad actually.

(Main office of a closed Detroit school littered with decades of students' records)
As I hear news of Detroit I picture the sad ghost town Flint that was portrayed in the movie. I mean, I know that coverage of Detroit on First 48 on A&E is not generalizable to the entire city--though its tempting. The city has plans to close schools over a 3 year period to help close their $300 million dollar deficit. My stomach hurts thinking of such as staggering amount. It's not just public schools, one private school is in danger of closing for failure to pay its $100,000 light bill. The school only has 138 students.


(A computer lab in a recently closed Detroit school that has been vandalized and striped of all metals
that could be used for resale)
With this said, I am unsure about how I feel about the school district spending $49 Million on technology development including the distribution of 40,000 laptops to students. The average class size is soon to grow to 64 students per teacher. 64 little hellions. Even the teenagers from the most affluent families are monsters at number! I will withhold judgement as that money may have been a technology specific grant and they were lucky to be awarded. Ain't that good news?

Photos by James Griffioen
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Poison pork: Pigs on steroids?

Once in a while there is a strong campaign to end my love affair with pork. A number of close mates don't touch "that swine" but I for one love pork ribs, sausage, pork chops, bacon, ham sandwiches... Hell, I may even eat pork rinds occasionally. Pork tends to have a negative reputation in my circles but it tastes delicious and barbecue sauce is abundant. It is hard to resist.

However according to the Washington Post they are feeding their pigs clenbuterol or "lean meat powder" as its called. It is a feed additive that reduces the fat in pigs and makes their meat appear very pink thus seeming fresher longer after butchering. Unfortunately, those who are eating pig tainted with hydroxycut for pigs are running to the hospital sick! What is worse is if you paid top dollar for this at the restaurant only to be sick as a dog. (Do you think the dogs eat the meat too?)

Farmers use clenbuterol because it increases profits in two ways: It speeds up the growth of animals to get them to market quicker and creates lean meat and similar to the organic craze here in the States, customers are willing to pay extra for lean meat. Customers don't have many feasible alternatives if they want to eat pork. Pork from organic farms in china costs almost 3 times as much as what floods the supermarkets.


Though I live in the U.S. I may consider taking a break from eating pork. Well, at least use beef pork in my red beans and rice tonight.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Copyrights and Wrongs

I am terribly restless with my job right now in state government. It's quite a change from academia to this...perpetual Dilbert cartoon.

I find the day to day things to be terribly mundane. Detailed emails about which copier we are forbidden to use. Corny chit-chat that I overhear as people spend a lot time brown-nosing instead of doing the work that honestly, doesn't seem immediately impactful. But people take 'having a job' very seriously and would fight to the death if they felt as though you were encroaching on their professional territory. And the boundaries are fairly invisible.

Speaking of invisible, I submit reports that no one cares to read and if I didn't submit I wonder how long it would take before it's noticed. I tend to shoot myself with my invisible gun by 2:45pm everyday. If you don't go out of your way to greet others in the morning, then they will spread rumors about you. I like to work and they want to sit and chat for a solid hour about their personal lives. They don't come say hello to me because they are unable to reduce their morning communication to a few warm words and then keep it moving. I assume.

I am a little resentful that my work life revolves around the office copy machine/printer. A copier should not be given that much attention. It has been switched out 3 to 4 times over the past year due to employee dissatisfaction. Seriously??? Who the hell cares and why? I just want to click print from my desk and walk the obligatory mile to the copier/printer and retrieve my journal articles and reports. We had a 30 minute training on the new copier/printer a few weeks ago. 10 minutes in, my eyes glazed over. I still can't use the darn thing. There has to be more to this. So I am waiting, resume and writing samples in tow because I am plum out of invisible bullets.
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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thanks for playing!

Yesterday my college alma mater Florida State University beat the top ranked basketball team, the almighty-professional NBA star factory Duke University. FSU beat Duke 66-61 (more than a buzzer shot!) ending their 25 game losing streak.

It sucks losing to a unranked team but great for the underdog! As you can imagine, the fans were so excited they rushed the court (something I would never, ever do). I happen to also teach at my Alma Mater and currently have a couple of players in my course. They had a tough quiz today in my early morning class. I almost felt bad for them after such an emotional win. They couldn't have possibly finished up before midnight.  Sucks to be them. But I did tell them "good game". That's my idea of being a considerate instructor.

What is more interesting is though Duke loses to an unranked team, unlike college football they do not tumble down the polls to #13 and FSU is not offered a rank. So whats the point? "Good Game" though.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Looking for more leisurely reading...maybe this isn't it.

I have been looking for another easy reader to add to my Nook and I came across this book by Ivanka Trump entitled The Trump Card: playing to win in work and life. I was a little excited about it because I love experience/advice books by women in business and politics. And I think she's adorable, she is my other Heidi Klum. Despite my excitement I am still ever so cautious about spending money on books I am going to hate/regret/find useless. It IS still a recession at my house. I downloaded the free sample to my Nook but before reading even the sample, I read the consumer reviews.

Ugh

"She doesn't acknowledge that she is privileged. She even tries to convince the reader that she did it all on her own." Another states that she is a VP of her father's real estate company after one-year stint in an entry-level position at another real-estate company. Really? And she attributes that to her "hard work".

If I were 10 years younger I would read her book and admire the fabulousness of her life. The travel, the opulence, it is just the kind of thing to keep me page-turning. Actually, it still would. However, my immigrant father, middle-class upbringing and public school education means I live in a different world than she does. What's tossed up does come down in my world but in her world it probably floats.

If she made a picture book entitled The Trump Card: It takes me all the places YOU want to be, I would be the first in line!
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Email Yes! Twitter No.

Thanks so much for the emails!  Twitter. I'm not there yet. I have quite a few of you asking if you can find me on Twitter. I have such a tough time with Facebook. I am not sure I see the point.

Not yet at least.

Hell, would I even read my own tweets??? Would you?
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Governor Still Selling off Government Planes? Shootings may change his mind.

Last week we inaugurated a new governor in the state of Florida, Rick Scott. I found him to be surprisingly likable outside of his politics. I find his politics to sometimes palatable and others gagworthy. Of the first news of action from his new administration is the intention to sell of the state jets that transport government officials across the state from the capital city, Tallahassee. Now the Tallahassee airport is nothing to write home about. I take that back, you would write about how hard it is to fly out of such as small, sparsely populated airport. You would also probably mention how the discount airline AirTran packed up due to low sales. That is like Wal-Mart going out of business! You would also write how you would never fly U.S Airways ever again...in your lifetime...but your only alternative is Delta for $1Billion dollars more. I digress...

Rick Scott doesn't see the point of having these allowances for government officials. After all it costs the state millions of dollars to maintain and politicians are regular people. They should find more economical and responsible ways to travel.  He however is criss-crossing the state in his OWN private jet. You know because he had a net worth of over $200 million last year and he spent $70 million of that on his own election. Water under the bridge...

Considering other politicians are not filthy rich and cannot afford their own jets and security detail, how does he feel about putting state politicians in the fray now after the Arizona shootings? Hopefully this will make him reconsider. Or somehow ensure that I can at least catch a cheap Southwest flight to Vegas from the Tallahassee airport.

[photo via MotherJones]
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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Arizona, Arizona...but here I will withhold my judgement...for now

Arizona. This is the state that has banned ethnic studies in  K-12 where they taught African, Mexican and Native American studies. Why promote diversity? This is the same state that has begun checking your immigration papers if you are brown and on the wrong side of town, you know racial profiling. Oh and they also no longer allow teachers with heavy accents to teach English...

Arizona is in fact a haven for bigotry and prejudice as stated by the Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik in reference to the Tucson shooting. Unfortunately you cannot convince me otherwise. However, I hesitate, though ever so slightly to attribute this to the crazy stuffed-monkey petting xenophobes that hide within the Tea Party. Why?  Because we have no proof. Thus far we know that Jared Lee Loughner is 22 years old with a history of mental illness and he shot up a political event killing 6 people, including a federal judge and shooting U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in the head. She is currently fighting for her life.

I think it is safe to assume it is politically motivated. But it is not guaranteed and I would not attribute it to the Tea Party...yet. I do know that post-pubescent boys don't usually go on a shooting rampage outside of their immediate realm of everyday living (i.e. school) without some mentoring. For example, the Lee Boyd Malvo and the D.C. sniper case. When we find the second person involved... the supposed male in his 40-50s and assess his capacities I will then judge. I suggest people do the same. It's a tough time and right now we should focus on that.
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Monday, January 03, 2011

If You're a Celebrity, Ignore Your Heritage or You Will End Up on the 'Worst' List!

Before years end the magazines and T.V. come up with their "Best and Worse" of the year. Best make-over, best comeback, worst break up. CBS (and CNN of course) reported on the Worst Celebrity Baby Names of 2010 as listed by BabyCenter.com and we are 3 days into the new year and I am still peeved!! Usually the names are pretty bad but I found the list to be culturally insensitive. Hell I think it is a modern example of cultural imperialism. Some of the worst celebrity baby names include:
 2. Egypt Daoud (Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz)
 5. Krishna (Padma Lakshmi)
10. Vida (Camilla Alves and Mathew McConaughey)

I wouldn't name my kid Egypt personally but considering Swizz Beats aka Kaseem Dean is Muslim I wouldn't rip on Daoud. Padma Lakshmi  named her daughter after the Hindu god of love. She is Indian for goodness sakes. Vida is Portuguese for life as so is Camilla Alves.
Lets see, what are a few of the best celebrity baby names? Levi, Bryn, Harper, Easton...
Cultural hegemony 1, diversity 0.
I can just imagine the writers of the list filling their little paper cones at the water cooler laughing screaming "Krishna! What kinda name is Krishna?! That's horrible!" not knowing if I had any idea of their names I would list them as the most ignorant and arrogant evil doers involved in some massive plot to ensure that all Americans name their kids Hailey and Easton.

I will note that the reporter on CNN said "I wonder if this isn't culturally insensitive". Sigh...maybe there's hope out there.
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Sunday, January 02, 2011

Tough Choices for the New Year

I have just returned from a rainy few days at the beach with the hubby-boo. Don't cry for me, cold rainy days means staying in doors and curling up in bed with your favorite person. I was very lucky to begin the year with love, relaxation and a great view of the water. I am also happy to have finally finished my copy of Carly Fiorina's memoir Tough Choices. I am a bit of a mad person in that I read many books at a time. I cannot tell you how long I have been reading this, but at least you know why it has taken me a while. Carly Fiorina is the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, she is smart, tough, and as cute as a button. While I do not agree with her politics, she has been a women that I admire and am really intrigued by. I first learned about her in 5 or so years ago when she was running HP and was abruptly ousted as described when she was covered on 60 Minutes.  She wasn't at all what I pictured when I thought of woman CEOs. They always look cold with pantsuits and their string of pearls come off facetious. But she, she was a woman I could relate too.  Her book read like an HBO movie and a management textbook. Interesting and incredibly informative. She is frank about her emotions in her book noting that leaders are not fearless but know how to move in spite of fear. Whether it was taking a risk or standing on principle she made tough decisions, and stood by them. You win some and you lose some but I think you'll win more than you'll lose this way. She continued to make bold moves even after battling breast cancer in 2009 and ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in the state of California on the Republican ticket. I am curious to see what she does next.
As I prep myself for the next for the first work week of the new year, I think of the number of tough decisions that I will have to make in the next few months. My career, the current pursuit of a doctorate degree, my personal and professional relationships all deserve an evaluation and a new approach. The next few steps will not be easy. I have been saying I need a new life. New with tags, I'll say. But I know that this uncomfortability begets progress. Something bigger is waiting for me and I have decided to go get it.
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