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My mom lets loose at my Harvard graduation.I just got off the phone with a college friend who also lost her mother to cancer, and we agree, whoever came up with the concept of Mother's Day was kind of an asshole. :) Since my mom passed in October 2005, this day and her birthday have been the most intense, jogging old memories, evoking what-if scenarios but mostly generating extreme levels of gratitude. Yesterday, at a cafe in San Francisco, someone asked me to what do I attribute my success and my free-spirited, positive, happy outlook on life. Apparently, I don't fit the stereotype of the maladjusted, depressed, bitter comedian. We'd gone a couple of rounds on this subject, and finally I just said, "I had an awesome mother." That's what it all comes down to. My mother encouraged my curiosity, my creativity and my confidence. She believed, far more than I did, that I've got reserves of strength and purpose yet untapped. And contrary to many people I know, she never ever made me feel guilty for forging my own path. She expected it. For everything I've done and have yet to do. For the love of incredible friends. For a better life than I could ever possibly have imagined for myself, I thank you Ma. Happy Mother's Day
Revolution Cafe 3428 22nd Street, between Mission and BartlettMy flight out is at 10pm, so I'll head out straight from there. The last time I was there in February, I unlocked an iPhone I picked up for $50 after it was run over by a car. In my recent Boston office hours, we got into discussions of feminism, immersive gaming and manipulating the electorate. What craziness will ensue on this trip? The Yay is a magical place, so come by and let's hold palaver and more. If you use Facebook, you can find the event listed there, RSVP etc.
- burned a couple of CDs with my Obama music to canvas by mix
- reserved a Mini Cooper via Zipcar to be picked up at Union Station in DC
- downloaded some videos to the ipod including Obama's address to Google where he unveiled his technology plan last November
- downloaded and printed Obama's position papers on issues I had never bothered as much to dig into including immigration and homeland security
- charged my TomTom GPS
- printed some detailed, two-sided, info sheets that friends in NYC had created which described Obama's accomplishments and plans for 11 issues
- printed some black and white "Yes We Can" 8.5x11 "posters" on my home printer
- sent some color prints to a Kinko's on K Street that would be waiting for me when I arrived. The posters are these "Progress" joints from Obey Giant
- printed Krugman's health care critique and critiques (another) of his critique
- When he comes to DC, he shouldn't just appear in the newly gentrified section. He needs to come to the still-black parts of DC in SE/Anacostia or Benning Rd. etc. It would do a lot for black DC to see that someone who works in their city actually cares about it beyond kickin it on Capitol Hill. Obama does support DC voting rights, but Robby's basic point was that he could get extra mileage out of showing he cares. He reminded me that Bill Clinton marched down Georgia Ave back in the day, and there are still black folk who remember that fondly.
- Despite the dogwhistle concerns of a lot of us about the Hussein, muslim father issue, Obama needs to own and advertise the value his heritage and name bring BEFORE the Republicans paint him as a traitor with it. One of my own strongest selling points is that O is uniquely capable of playing makeup with the world after Dubya has taken multiple dumps on it. With family in Kenya and years spent living in the most populous Muslim country in the world, Obama is connected to global poverty (for example) in ways no other president has ever been or will be
- Obama has rightly focused on inspiring and motivating the American people, but in order to realize many of his stated goals, he needs to inspire and motivate federal employees. If he can do that, he has a good chance of getting something real accomplished
- (updated. just remembered). Can black people criticize or not be for Obama without being considered traitors (similar to the NOW fanatics who call women voting for not-Hillary traitors)? This is a great question, and the answer should be yes. It depends on the nature of that opposition (CBC water-carrying vs. policy/philosophical/fact-based critiques like the Black Agenda Report peoples). It would be a travesty if black people did not feel free to raise concerns about Obama, and I know I have to be careful to check my fervor when confronted with facts. We all should. Blind followership hurts us all.
In an effort to clarify my own thinking and perhaps influence others, it's now time to offer the flip side argument on who I do support: Barack Obama.
Besides, as one of 10 black people to have ever visited Iowa, I think I am uniquely qualified to influence caucus voters today. :)
Fellow Jack & Jill blogger rikyrah has already spit a pretty comprehensive post on her endorsement of Obama, dealing with issues of progressive values, electability, the symbolic value of a black president and more. I won't re-tread those fine steps. Instead, I'll try to share pieces of my own Obama story.
In hindsight, I was probably sold during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I had worked hard to convince myself that I actively supported John Kerry beyond the pro-sanity-anyone-but-Bush wing of my psyche. I watched that documentary about his Vietnam service and was moved. However, the convention was the beginning of the end of my forced love affair of convenience. I was living in Boston at the time, and Obama's speech lit a fire in that city as it did across the country. I remember many conversations with fellow citizens going a little something like this: "Uh, you think maybe it's too late to switch the nominee?" When rumor spread that he would be showing up at a convention afterparty at a spot called Vinalia, the place instantly flooded with people.
How many state senators could have that instant effect on people? That doesn't happen very often.
As the current campaign season kicked off, I watched and waited. Like most black people, I did not instantly decide to support him. As I wrote several seasons ago, I sincerely worried about his safety and doubted his ability to survive, much less get elected. Like a good citizen, I felt a duty to keep an open mind, watch debates, read extensively and survey the entire field.
At the Yearly Kos 2007 convention in Chicago this past August, I had to chance to see him in a small setting and ask a pretty tough question about his support for coal and a Renewable Portfolio Standard. His answer wasn't perfect (we reminded him that all coal is evil), but was was excellent nonetheless. While I don't think he had the best answer on coal as far as my stance, I respect him for actually listening to the question and giving me a direct, complete and thoughtful answer. Watch the video right now. (his answer to my question is about 4 mins long).
And here's a photo from after the event.
I warmed up to him even more by October when he dropped a bomb of an editorial blasting Democrats for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard resolution and was reminded that while his 2002 opposition to the Iraq war looks mainstream from the perspective of late 2007, at the time it showed real risk-taking and leadership during a frightening era in which the White House, Congress and the media made that war seem like the only reasonable response to 9/11. The deal was sealed when I saw him at the historic Apollo Theatre in Harlem.
But wait, there's more.
I don't make book recommendations lightly, so please take seriously this one: read Dreams From My Father , a book he wrote after he graduated Harvard Law School and long before he held any public office. It's both an amazing story and amazingly written. I just finished it two days ago, so it's fresh in my mind.
At the young age of 30, he offered an impressive overview of the history of race in America and the history of America in general. In so many ways, his story was my own: warnings from black elders to watch your back (and identity) in college; wrestling with the tug of war between black consciousness and mainstream American culture; experiencing the endless loop of self-important college "activists"; the barbershop!
Through his family history, I felt that I was better able to connect with America and even the world because his experience is worldly, and not in that backpacking-through-Europe with my parents' money sort of way, but more in the living-under-a-corrupt-government-in-Indonesia then talking-to-my-grandfather-about-the-War then reconnecting-with-my-East-African-relatives sort of way.
Those who think of Obama as just another elite member of the political class would gain a lot from reading this book. Granted, he has been influenced by the high octane educational institutions he attended, but he seems to have exited largely intact, having worked in community organizing both in New York City and Chicago when his degrees could easily have swayed him toward Abramoff-Kravis wing of the socio-economic spectrum. Organizing residents of the Altgeld Gardens projects on the South Side is not the standard pedigree of the political elite.
I have not done a comprehensive review of all of his policies, but two specifically excite me.
Obama's plan for driving innovation and openness in our tech/communications infrastructure and the government itself is inspiring as hell. Matt Stoller at Open Left said this:
...Obama has thrown down a big gauntlet, policy-wise. He is pushing to break up the wireless gatekeepers, net neutrality will be a strong priority in his administration, and open government will allow citizens to generate new sources of political power. I don't trust Obama's politics and I find his post-partisan rhetoric problematic, but I believe in organizing, and I believe that if he is willing to put the government on an open level playing field for all citizens while protecting our ability to access it, good things will happen.
Gristmill, a pretty trustworthy environmental site, has a strong endorsement of Obama's energy plan.
In addition, Populista over at DailyKos has a set of insanely detailed and informative diary posts covering "How Obama Will Change The System." This is a great answer to those who consider him a progressive lightweight who is not "serious about change."
- Part 1 public financing of campaigns. Highlights: Obama teamed up with Feingold as lead sponsor of a public financing bill; he also promoted the idea in the Illinois legislature
- Part 2: media reform. Highlights: through letter-writing, aggressive public statements and sponsored legislation, Obama fought against further consolidation of our media
- Part 3: transparency of government. Highlights: has led on the issue of ethics and government transparency for his entire elected career; was lead sponsor of the Google for Government Bill which provides unprecedented public access to information on government contracts. You can play with it now. It's real!
- Part 4: election reform and voting rights. Highlights: Obama is against Voter IDs, for restoring voting rights to ex-felons, opposed the nomination of Spakovsky to the FEC, co-sponsored legislation to give full voting rights to my hometown of D.C.
It is almost guaranteed that the systemic disenfranchisement of millions by our political and economic systems will remain largely in place with any of the presidential candidates. This nation requires a war-level effort of sacrifice and innovation to reinvent our energy, climate and food systems.
Our monetary, currency and banking policies would probably be significantly improved if we shifted a greater portion of them to local systems.
While economic growth is sought universally by both political parties, few acknowledge that endless growth is impossible within the closed system that is this planet.
Our military industrial complex has grown far beyond Eisenhower's worst fears. (check this April 2006 edition of my old podcast - I interviewed an Air Force official who oversaw contractors)
And then there are these five issues raised recently by Matt Stoller.
And then there is overpopulation.
Obama is not speaking much about most of these issues, but then again, few presidents ever have. Still, as I pointed out above, he's been very active on key threats to our democracy such as media consolidation, government corruption and campaign financing.
Obama is neither a Magic Negro nor a messiah. He is not Martin Luther King Jr. nor is he Sojourner Truth. He cannot change this country and make it all the great things so many people want it to be on his own. No politician can. No single person can. Anyone who promises that cannot deliver it. What I hope and increasingly believe, however, is that his ability to connect with people, to inspire participation, to transcend some of the more obscene flavors of recent partisanship will encourage us to take a step closer to fixing this country ourselves.
It says something powerful when you have the largest pool of small campaign donors in the history of presidential elections. It says something powerful when you can lure 30,000 ordinary people to a political rally, especially when you do so in a country whose leader doesn't wear fatigues or put his image on the nation's money.
If President Obama can accomplish two or three of the changes that candidate Obama has laid out, that would be a vast improvement for the country. But what I'm really rooting for is that he will help rekindle that spirit of civic engagement and community that is the lifeblood of this experiment called democracy. In the end, it's not about Obama. It's about us!
Mechanical engineering doctoral student Baratunde A. Cola, from left, looks through a view port in a plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition instrument while postdoctoral research fellow Placidus Amama adjusts settings. The two engineers recently have shown how to grow forests of tiny cylinders called carbon nanotubes onto the surfaces of computer chips to enhance the flow of heat at a critical point where the chips connect to cooling devices called heat sinks. The carpetlike growth of nanotubes has been shown to outperform conventional "thermal interface materials." The research is based at the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Discovery Park at Purdue.Uh huh. Go head wit yo bad self other Baratunde! And if anyone out there thinks I'm a geek, you don't know how geeky we Baratundes can get :)
To an ANC government vulnerable to left-wing accusations that it has pursued rigidly orthodox capitalist economic policies that have not done enough for the masses, it is not an entirely comforting thought. There is disenchantment among young South Africans, who see the country's leaders embroiled in scandal and a new black elite growing richer while most blacks find it harder and harder to keep up with inflation.As we combat our own disconnected leadership in a country attempting racial reconciliation, and as we are engaged in an occupation of another nation, no one better embodies the idea of "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" as does Steve Biko.
- My iTunes music and video library. (~300GB) I estimate I had about $1500 worth of purchased music and videos in there plus hundreds of gigs of ripped CDs. The good news is I saved all the original CDs and can re-rip them. I had also "acquired" a massive music collection from a friend which ended up creating more problems than it solved. There was a lot of music I never really wanted to own permanently. I can repurchase the iTunes music at far less than the cost of the data recovery, though I'll see about begging Apple for a restoration. I've head that happens sometimes.
- My video projects (~500GB). This includes imported MiniDV footage and many edited and rendered Final Cut and iMovie projects made since January 2005. The good news is I have all the original MiniDVs and I can download the most valuable rendered projects back from YouTube (I hope) and blip.tv which hosts a bunch. The bad news is video is the most time intensive, high learning curve activity I have ever engaged in. Much of my knowledge in those project files has to be relearned.
- My audio projects (??GB). This includes raw audio for my podcast, including dozens of unedited, unreleased interviews. I've often felt bad that I never got to many of these. Now I have a pretty good excuse.
- My old computer files. About two months ago, I extracted data from my old college computer hard drives and put them on the Atlas drive. This had emails, papers, mp3s, etc. I was so excited to have found this time capsule, but now it's gone.
- My mother. At the end of it all, I am pained by the loss of the above items, but nothing can represent the sense of anguish I feel at having lost audio of my mother who passed away two years ago. We had taken a cross-country drive together, and I recorded hours of conversation. I only got to podcast a little bit of it (which can be redownloaded from my webhost) but the unedited stuff is beyond valuation. It's like losing her all over again.
- I have the Drobo with 1.3 terabytes of capacity to be the home of New_Atlas. This drive will also be mirrored on a 1TB external Glyph and online via Mozy or a similar service. Any recommendations?
- My MacBook Pro internal drive will be mirrored on the Drobo/Glyph/Mozy setup as well
- I'll keep a smaller subset of high priority files for more frequent offsite backup
- The more technical side of the failure is that the "master" drive is fine but the "slave" drive suffered a series of head crashes. Basically, a major mechanical failure happened, and the platters inside the drive collapsed. It does not appear to be due to physical impact but just a mechanical malfunction
- I appreciate just about all the comments except for those telling me I'm an idiot. I know that. This single-point-of-failure system was temporary during my move. The odds of the drive failing in such a short period of time are low, but it happened. Remind me to drop in on your house and mock you when you suffer your own tragedy
- I wrote this post to 1) provide an emotional outlet for me 2) see how others might be handling their own data backups in this era of digital memories but mostly 3) to scare people into backing up their stuff as soon as possible in one way or another. I really don't want this to happen to others. It costs too much in time and emotional energy.
- Facebook Follies (or the Dangers of Investing in Someone Else’s Platform)
- gcc 004: I Hate the Smugness of Apple (VIDEO)
- Iraq is to Vietnam as Dubya is to WTF!?!? (Huffington Post)
- Jesse Jackson Really Needs to Read a Book… explaining what satire is
- Me. Public Radio. Monday Apr 24. Racism In America.
- and my standup set on YouTube
- Apple's iTunes folks restored almost all my purchased items, 83GB worth in over 900 tracks.
- A 1TB Glyph drive has arrived which I will use to back up the drobo in a "spanning" setup. It's two drives, but in this case the Glyph will fill up one drive then the other, sequentially. I'll store this in a fire-proof box in my home. I'm also gonna store this all on Mozy, so that's three places (two on-site and one remote) with ALL my data. I'll make smaller backup sets of really important stuff
- Today is my birthday, and getting Dugg is the best web gift ever... way better than a $1 Facebook "gift" :) And yes, it really is my birthday. Check the vid...
- The Infrant ReadyNAS is a tool many have mentioned for hard drive backup. I studied it vs. the Drobo and chose Drobo, but that may not be right for everyone or even for me.
- An eBook recommended by Macworld called Take Control of Mac OS X Backups, 2nd Edition. Here is a free article in two parts which goes through a lot of the same material. There is some great content here even if you don't have a Mac