Thursday, November 29, 2007

Like the rest of us, Taylor was a victim

On the last night of his life, NFL star Sean Taylor settled in for a night of sleep in his suburban Miami home with his longtime girlfriend and his 18-month-old daughter.

Does that sound like someone who had it coming? Does that seem like a particularly wild night for a so-called thug? I would imagine not, because nearly all of us do the same thing, with some slight variations.

None of us are promised anything, even something as simple as taking another unaided breath in the morning.

It seems that some of us have forgotten that. I'll link to this column by's Jason Whitlock as proof. I'm only picking on J-Dub this time because his piece generated the most conversation in our newsroom Thursday.

Now don't get me wrong: I have lots of respect for Whitlock, a second-wave pioneer in sports journalism and one of the most provocative media voices in the nation today. If, at the end of my career, I had a tenth of his juice in the news industry, I'd be certifiably big-headed (some folks may already believe this).

But to use Taylor's death as an example of some sort of epidemic, the so-called "black-on-black crime" problem, is another example of shallow analysis, anti-intellectualism and beating the same old drum.

The simple fact is that people usually commit crimes against the people closest to them and for a number of socioeconomic reasons too complicated to get into here, many neighborhoods wind up racially segregated. So, black people often kill black people in the way that white people often kill white people and brown people often kill brown people - but when has anyone ever heard the term "white-on-white crime"?

I would never minimize the problem of crime and its terrible effects on mostly poor and brown folks, but that's got little to nothing to do with why Taylor is dead today.

Another tired tactic is blaming hip-hop for many of the ills of society. Whitlock refers to this mythical "Black KKK," demonizing an entire, diverse and pioneering culture for yet another senseless death. It's a pretty large leap to connect those sort of dots - what does Talib Kweli or Wordsworth or Kanye have to do with a murder that Miami-Dade police have thus far considered to be a random tragedy? If Whitlock doesn't have rap music on his iPod, that's his prerogative. I get it, he doesn't like hip hop. But don't lie to folks by telling them Soulja Boy had something to do with Taylor's death when, as far as I know, Tony Soprano gets off the hook.

In the end, we're all vulnerable, weak, exposed human beings. Taylor indeed had a few rodeos with the legal system in the past but when he settled in for a night of sleep with his family Sunday night, he was like the rest of us. A potential victim.

And music has nothing to do with that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It starts at home

I’m not a big football fan, but the news of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor’s murder shocked and saddened me.

After reading about 24-year-old Taylor’s death yesterday and the toddler he left behind, I read today about the death of LaTora Wiley,16, and the 25-year-old man accused in her death.

The seemingly senseless taking of lives is insane and seems to be getting out of control, especially with the younger sector of the population.

What can be done to stop all of these murders of people not even old enough to fulfill the dreams they’re still in the process of dreaming about?

I think most of us look to our elected officials and law enforcement, but I think the solution may lie on a much more local and manageable level.

It starts at home, with the family. I really feel that instead of hollering about the mayor or the police department’s handling of crime, families of young offenders should be held responsible. They can get to their children way before the police do, way before they even pick up that gun, knife, baseball bat, or whatever their weapon of choice is.

I know there are exceptions. There is no sure-fire way that will keep kids from attacking/killing each other in every case. In some instances there may be parents that do all they can to raise moral, law abiding kids but things happen anyway.

From there, it goes to the community. If you’ve got the time, patience and resources, why not volunteer with underprivileged or troubled youth in the city. I know sometimes it seems far fetched to think that we can make a difference, maybe change the path of another human being, but it’s been done. I mean, look at it this way, being a mentor to someone who doesn’t have it at home could save someone else's life – be it the potential offender or victim.

Before I start getting all of the negative feedback and folks start to think I’m crazy, let me just say I’m not saying that my suggestions are going to heal the world, make it a better place. It’s just one part of a solution that will need everybody’s input.

And while some people shake their head, mumbling, “That’ll never work,” I challenge you to spend more time coming up with helpful ideas than shooting everyone else’s ideas down.

I know what I’m saying is nothing new. There are volunteers and parents out there everyday doing exactly what I’m talking about. Much gratitude to those people for spending their time doing work many of us don’t even think about doing.

OK, I'll step down off my soapbox now, but would like to hear your thoughts.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is a recession on the horizon?

I'm worried.

I feel like every time I open a newspaper or Web page the country's financial health is examined. And for good reason I suppose.


"After years of living happily beyond their means, Americans are finally facing financial reality. A persistent rise in energy prices will mean bigger heating bills this winter and heftier tabs at the gas pump. Job growth is slowing and wage gains have been anemic. House prices are sliding, diminishing the value of the asset that's the biggest factor in Americans' personal wealth. Even the stock market, which has been resilient for so long in the face of eroding consumer sentiment, has begun pulling back amid signs of deep distress in the financial sector."
(Read the full story here.)

Man, doom and gloom, huh?

I'm trying to figure out what I need to do. I've adjusted my attitude and don't even get alarmed anymore when gas prices creep toward $3. However, I DO get mad every time I go to buy a gallon of milk and it costs more than that gallon of gas.
The price of living has, and continues, to skyrocket.

I'm reading more and more stuff about a possible recession (though that threat always seems to be in the air) and I'm wondering what's about to happen. How hard will times get? What has to happen - initiated by either consumers or producers - to make things better? Is the country's financial situation the consumer's fault? Is the media just making too much of this?

What do you guys think? What does the future look like in your minds?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The real reason to be thankful, 2007 edition

Every year has its twists, turns, peaks and lows, but it’s always important to give thanks through it all. Even for the little things.
So, us Link222’ers are back again with our reasons to be thankful this year. Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful to be home visiting my mother and to have a job

I’m thankful my birthday is the day after Thanksgiving instead of the day of this year. Now, I don’t have to compete for attention with family gatherings and turkey. Wait. There is an LSU game, and everyone will be shopping. Just a few more years until it’s on a Monday or a Tuesday, I guess.

I am thankful for recipes. They can really save your life (if you don’t burn down your home using them) when you’re hundreds of miles away from a good grandma-cooked Thanksgiving meal.

I’m thankful for my family and friends. I wish I could say I’m thankful to spend the holiday with them, but I can’t, because I’ll be here working so that ya’ll will have something to read Friday.
I’m also thankful that this weather has kept up with my procrastination in buying a new coat.


I'm thankful for life, family, friends, good food and the good cooks in my family who refuse to let me test my "gourmet" skills. I'm also thankful for the advent of modern technology including mp3 players, smartphones and the computer - they change lives!

I’m grateful for people who believe in second chances, Vince Young, Houston and Internet cowards like dirtwater, dr. duke and Big Jonah for reminding us all that idiocy, shallow analysis and virulent racism are still alive and well…

Monday, November 19, 2007

I'm just saying...

I’m sure many of you heard about the march on Washington Friday. In case you missed it, people from all over the country led by Al Sharpton marched around the Justice Department to demand more enforcement of hate crime laws.

The march was largely fueled by anger of the lack of federal intervention in the case of the noose-hanging incident in Jena and other recent noose-hanging incidents across the country.
I know we’re all not going to agree on the case of the Jena Six or its surrounding events, clearly. That’s not even up for debate specifically in this post.

And I know some folks across racial lines are going to always refer to people like Rev. Al Sharpton as troublemakers. (Just remember, Martin Luther King Jr. was commonly referred to as a troublemaker too back during the civil rights movement… Just something to think about.)

But if the federal government can deem it urgent and necessary to intervene on behalf of dogs (i.e. the Michael Vick dog abuse case) and baseball (i.e. the steroid case with Barry Bonds) can’t we at least agree that more federal action should be taken against a hate crime that symbolizes decades of gruesome, brutal, unjust murders committed throughout this country against a race of people?

If you still think leaving nooses around is just a harmless, kiddie prank, check this CNN special out. Or, better yet, watch it whenever it airs again and let me know what you thought.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

First Christmas card of the year

I just got it in the mail today. I suppose it's technically a season's greetings card rather than a Christmas card. But guess who it's from?

That's right, our friends down at Chimp Haven. The card unfolds into a calendar, and the newsletter part is modeled after the kind I get from extended family every year. There's an update on Baby Tracy, the mystery that captured national attention earlier this year. There are cute stories about chimpanzee's favorite toys and socialization.

I have to say it was pretty cute. All my more advanced primate friends really are going to have a lot to live up to.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

R.I.P Dr. Donda West...

Many Kanye West fans, and even those who aren't fans, know how close he is to his mama. He made it known in every way from bringing her as his date to the Grammy's, making her his manager and penning an entire song about her, "Hey Mama," on his sophomore album "Late Registration." So, running across this news is particularly shocking and you can't help but wonder if Kanye, his life or his music will ever be the same. R.I.P. Dr. Donda West.

Protect yourself

Predators beware.

Fellow Times staffer Stephanie Netherton and I took a women's self-defense class and we're ready to use our moves.
(Umm...excuse the cheesy picture, but we're pretty proud of ourselves.)
Shreveport Police Department has something good going with this class that they offer for free. It's about two hours long and you learn basic blocks and manuevers that help you get away from any potential attacker.
I will admit, I was a little disappointed when the instructor told us his goal wasn't to teach us how to fight a man. Apparently, a woman has less than a 1 percent chance at winning a that fight. But the instructor did equip us with some pretty nifty moves that would enable us to both hurt the attacker and get away.

We also heard some good tips, that we've all heard before, but it's good to hear again as a refresher:

Leave lights on outside and inside your house when you're going to get home after dark.

Lock your door as soon as you walk in the house.

Don't always follow the same routine. Sometimes take a different route home, etc. just incase
someone is following you in preparation for an attack.

To learn the rest, you'll have to go to the class. But ladies, it's worth it.

And this class is great for any age, race or class. There were teenage girls there as well as older ladies that wanted to protect themselves. One woman was taking the class after being mugged recently.

The next class is from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. Dec. 12 at the training academy on Greenwood Road. Call 318-673-7170 to register.
Also, check out Stephanie's blog for her take on the class.

Friday, November 09, 2007

He said something new -- that young folks can appreciate

Last time I wrote something about Cedric Glover I said he didn't say anything I hadn't heard. (This was at young professionals
gathering.) The next time I saw him was a press conference, and he was kind enough to point out he read the blog. He did so by asking if I'd heard anything new when he spoke to the group of reporters.

I don't think I gave him too hard of a time with the last post -- or he to me. But in case you missed it, the mayor of Shreveport undoubtedly said something new to most of us Wednesday during his State of the City speech. And I think it's something that people our age around these parts should be excited to hear.

His office is working with LSU-S to create a cyberspace research center that would work with and feed off of and into the Air Force Cyber Command Center, should it become a permanent fixture here.

That sounds like incredible news to me for the local economy. Anytime you have jobs that require advanced degrees, it moves your city and region onto a different tier when professionals look for a place to move. It's exciting to think Shreveport-Bossier City could one day be an industry center like some of the cities my friends are moving to: Dallas, Austin, Nashville and Charlotte.

And when you've got a booming economy, it seems to be a boon for the kind of culture you can buy -- a win-win situation. To me, that sounds like the kind of place young professionals want to live: where they can’t meet others like them. A place where others can appreciate what they brought back home from a college that may have been far away. A place where new people want to go, not just where you fall back if you can’t find a job right out of school.

I hope these strides spoke from podiums will have teeth – i.e. funding. And I hope it bites convincingly enough to make the Air Force keep Cyber Command here.

Thanks for saying something new, Mr. Mayor. Touché.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


If you’re a TV junkie like me, you’re watching this WGA writer’s strike pretty closely. For some reason, I’m so fascinated by it on several levels. First of all, as a journalist, it’s interesting to see my fellow "writer brethren" take a stand for what they believe is right and owed to them.

Then, as someone whose DVR includes a daily mix of talk shows, soap operas, sitcoms and prime time dramas, it’s interesting to see how this strike could affect the continuity of my some of my favorite shows.

(In a side note, some of you may have read in Alexandry Kent's story that the strike won't affect local productions.)

Anyway, for my fellow TV junkies out there, here's a neat look at how the strike is affecting/may affect some of your TV viewing.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

He's baaack...

Just when I thought Halloween was over, I was scrolling through the headlines and ran across this...

Ok, ok, just kidding! (Well, the news is real though.)
But come on, are you really surprised? Happy? Ecstatic? Irritated? Thoughts anyone?