Friday, February 23, 2007

The Black KKK?

Multiple people have pointed out that this past weekend's NBA All-Star game was surrounded by a chaotic scene in Las Vegas. More and more in recent years, it has become almost as big an excuse for celebrities of all sorts to gather and party as is the Super Bowl. This year, it was noted that police simply seemed 'overwhelmed'. Bill Simmons described it as the "Hip-Hop Woodstock".

Reaction to the presence of this criminal element has brought about an interesting article by sportswriter Jason Whitlock. In a piece entitled Time to Stop Looking Past Black KKK: Denial Only Empowers Negative Forces in Community he writes the following:

We have a problem in the black community, and it didn't make its debut at All-Star Weekend Vegas. What was impossible to ignore in Vegas was on display in Houston, Atlanta and previous All-Star locations.

With the exception of Louis Farrakhan's 1995 Million Man March, it's been on display nearly every time we've gathered in large groups to socialize in the past 15 or so years.

The Black Ku Klux Klan shows up in full force and does its best to ruin our good time. Instead of wearing white robes and white hoods, the new KKK has now taken to wearing white Ts and calling themselves gangsta rappers, gangbangers and posse members.

Just like the White KKK of the 1940s and '50s, we fear them, keep our eyes lowered, shut our mouths and pray they don't bother us.

Our fear makes them stronger. Our silence empowers them. Our lack of courage lets them define who we are. Our excuse-making for their behavior increases their influence and enables them to recruit more freely.

We sing their racist songs, gleefully call ourselves the N-word, hype their celebrity and get upset when white people whisper concerns about our sanity.

And whenever someone publicly states that the Black KKK is terrorizing black people, black neighborhoods, black social events and glorifying a negative, self-destructive lifestyle, we deny and blame the Man.

I don't want to do it anymore.

We can immediately observe that this is an article that will no doubt be controversial. In the same vein as Bill Cosby and Juan Williams, Whitlock will likely face outrage from within even his own friends.

He raises a valid question, however. What is the answer to the violence that has become ingrained within inner-city black culture?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

On being an engineer...

Do you have 'the knack'?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Interstates Simplified

Chris Yates has created a fantastic map version of the American interstate system.

You may buy print versions here.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Decision Time

Okay, so I've heard a lot of talk about the Chicago Bulls possibly trading for Pau Gasol. At first I didn't know how serious the rumors were, but now it seems that Bulls' GM John Paxson is seriously considering a deal. Here's a passage from a Sam Smith article that sums up the dilemma:

Drew in Chicago asks, "Could you give me your list of Bulls, among Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni and Tyrus Thomas, whom you would trade?"

This is a great question I'm sure John Paxson is asking as well now that there's talk the Bulls could get Pau Gasol. Ben Gordon is invaluable with his scoring, but doesn't do that much else. He doesn't really run the offense, pass or defend. But they do count the points at the end of the game and no one on the Bulls does it better. Hinrich isn't quite the scorer, but is a better defender but probably doesn't quite have the point guard mentality of Duhon. Deng is the most consistent, able to do a little bit of everything. I know I still haven't answered. Nocioni is a nice specialist, tough guy and good shooter and Thomas is the best athlete of all but a bit away in skills.

I'd put Hinrich, Gordon and Deng together at the top and find them almost inseparable in value. If I had to I'd probably keep Gordon because of his unique scoring ability and Hinrich because he defends the best and can play point and score, though he's more an old-time guard like Danny Ainge. Good guards are harder to come by than good small forwards, which makes it tough because Deng might have a higher ceiling than Hinrich and Gordon and could improve the most...

Personally, I think the Bulls absolutely have to hang onto Luol Deng. He can do a little bit of everything and is fast improving... we really don't know what type of player he'll be in two years. There's a chance the Bulls could package Deng with another player and a first round draft pick for Gasol, only to find out that Deng was the best player in the whole deal.

Of course, if Chicago's goal is to be a serious championship contender in 2008, then I don't like the idea of parting with Hinrich or Gordon either. It's a tough call though because they need to add somebody like Gasol to even have a chance at getting to that next level. Right now I think the Bulls could squeak into the NBA Finals, but then they'd be roadkill for whichever Western Conference team they faced (barring injury).

John Paxson has a tough decision to make. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hoop Dreams

For a mere $25,000 a night, you can stay at the Hardwood Suite in the Palms' new Fantasy Tower. Now, you might ask, "Where's that?"

Only in Vegas.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Friday, February 02, 2007


Gregg Easterbrook cites research showing that, "Among median incomes are currently rising twice as fast as family median income for the United States as a whole." He goes on to show via many more statistics that "typical Americans have become steadily better-off [than their parents]."

Despite that, Easterbrook later notes, "To say that most aspects of are getting better for most people should not be misunderstood as claim that all is well... Deep, structural faults exist exist in...the United States, and the persistence of deep faults in a wealthy, successful nation like America deserves the world's opprobrium." He goes on to note, "One person in six poor, in the most affluent nation in world history, would be a shocking indictment of American society. It is America's current condition." He summarizes, "The United States...possesses sufficient wealth and power as to have no excuse for not addressing its faults. History may judge America harshly if its extraordinary combination of affluence and freedom is frittered away..."

Last Friday, ABC's 20/20 gave us a glimpse of some of the inequality in our own society. They follow a group of three children for a year and a half in Camden, NJ, which is called America's poorest and most dangerous city, asking, "What's it like to grow up in poverty and fear in the richest country in the world?" I would encourage you to watch this video (really, watch all the videos from the segment available). I cannot imagine seeing these stories and remaining unmoved. I challenge all of us to begin to reach out to bridge the gaps in our society.