Race Wars

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Normally I don’t delve into this stuff because I’m spoiled by who I surround myself with, unless some rookie happens to get under my skin.

       For worse or for worse, Facebook has amplified a new range of voices. Shit, everyone’s a philosopher nowadays (why even go to school). I mean, it’s great that technology has encouraged a wave of intellectual awakenings, but watching people try to reinvent the wheel can be frustrating. Everyday now (or really every time I check the damn thing) people are sharing links and liking posts, positioning themselves alongside random internet gospel in an attempt to manufacture confidence in the beliefs they’ve duct-taped together. In discussions, all it comes out to be is a half-assed blurting of other people’s half-assed stuff to try and score ego points here and there in never-ending asinine back and forths (the equation for ignorance is half-ass^p, after all).

       The current trend is to invade discussions about solutions to racism. The banter usually boils down to talking about how we are not actually a post-race society; and how certain efforts are or are not successful at transforming us into that post-race society. On my view those efforts fall into a few different models: bruteforce solutions (over-compensatory), passive solutions (equilibratory) and role-modeling solutions (singular).

       On the brute force model, people attempt to manufacture equality by countering racism with anti-racism. Here, the plan is to force demands for equality down societies gullet through methods like protests and boycotts, thereby squeezing racism out of humanities butt-hole and hopefully reaping the benefits. One recent example is the Bay Bridge blockade. The other day my Uber passengers were unaware of why the Bay Bridge was being blocked off. I explained to them what the cause was, but they didn’t seem sure it worked. Of course, some will say nothing was accomplished (SF/Oakland is still seeing robberies in broad daylight, Flint isn’t now getting clean water and killer cops aren’t getting re-tried), while some say it served its purpose (by virtue of getting an aloof Uber-riding couple to talk about something other than getting drunk).

       Another example, Jada Pinkett-Smith was on record as saying she wants to boycott the Oscars. She wants to force the awareness of the blinding absence of minority representation within these kinds of events. Of course, some will argue avoiding the already all-white celebration is the right move (in order to avoid playing the token black woman and risk humiliation), while others will want to argue that merely being there helps to scrub away some of the white washing (Jada could be the one carrying the torch and she’d surely be a good fit to do it). I mean, can she (or the protestors) ever really win in people’s eyes? Jada, the people on the Bay Bridge, and others like them will always end up damned if they do (people will argue that nothing really changed) and damned if they don’t (people will argue that they did not help to bring awareness to issues at all).

       On the passive model, people try to create an idyllic piece of reality under the hope it will be embraced and dispersed by society itself. In other words, by behaving as if all things are equal and showing what equality can look like, the rest of society will follow suit and just make it happen. A popular example is Star Wars’ Black lead actor, John Boyega. On the one hand, he plays a Jedi (thumbs up…and spoiler?), while on the other he’s a servant and a galactic janitor (thumbs down). Some people say that Finn represents a billion(s) dollar invitation to Hollywood to put more minorities in lead roles, which will encourage the rest of the studios to catch on and do the same (emulating and propagating equality). Others argue that Finn is just status quo for Hollywood and that other studios will continue to mock minorities one way or another (sabotaging attempts at equality).

       A similar case is  Black Entertainment Television (BET), which is a channel (just like PBS, CNN and NBC) that produces its own content (just like Two Broke Girls, Big Bang Theory, and How I Met Your Mother). Yet, the channel is at once supported by a part of the community and also disdained by another. Some think it is necessary to keep the channel alive to maintain minority representation (else there wouldn’t be any to speak of; just having it up might inspire other bigwigs to put out more channels and content for minorities in a mostly white washed space). Some argue that merely having that channel running doesn’t do enough to provoke racial equality (citing endless reruns of syndicated shows and no unique, thought-provoking content; what good has really come of endless Lil Wayne music videos). Again, damned if you do (people say passive efforts carry some embedded racism anyway) and damned if you don’t (what examples of equality would there be if no one even attempts to show what it could look like).

       On the singular model, though, an individual places the burden on herself to encourage change with both passive and bruteforce methods. In other words, this is the “do work” solution. See, I was watching ESPN and Marlon Wayans was actually asked if he would boycott the Oscars (his friend Jada already said she would). Besides saying he wasn’t invited (in a joking way), he said that his primary concern is putting his head down and producing, writing and creating content. In this case, Marlon believes he carries the responsibility as an individual minority actor/filmmaker to represent other potential minority filmmakers (proving it is possible to succeed) and also help others to become creators (making others succeed). He is a classically trained actor (some would call him whitewashed) who produces pretty dumb movies (some would call him an Uncle Tom). No matter what, people are going argue about whether he is doing good or bad for equality. But no one can say he he hasn’t put in the work to demonstrate and encourage success (look at the commercial for his new movie and it is minority actors in the spotlight). Marlon wants to earn his right to get invited to the Oscars and decline if he so chooses, and is helping get others to the point where they can get invited to shows (and decline). Quite frankly, he doesn’t care what people think about his efforts, because he’s actually seeing a payoff (financial, familial and sociological success). There is no damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t in this case, because he has become who he wants to become and is helping others become who they want to be. Who can argue against that? 

       If you’re reading between the lines, the only “model” that matters is the singular individual effort a person makes towards ultimately becoming who they want to become and also helping others do the same. Talking about other people’s efforts (whether bruteforce or passive) does society no actual good (talk is cheap, after all). Each of those people on the Bay Bridge, Jada, John, and Marlon all have shifted society forward in some real way (look into Boyega’s eyes here and tell him he’s an Uncle Tom hurting our chances at equality). If you ask any of them, they’ll tell you they have seen change come about through their efforts and have seen success occur. I’m sure the dude said something like, “be the change that you wish to see in the world” not, “argue how SOMEONE ELSE is right or wrong without ever doing shit yourself.” I mean, maybe I haven’t changed the world by wanting to become some Mexican-Salvadorean,  Latino Honor Roll every year, ADHD researching, salutatorian (Kelly!), news article writing, Cal graduating double majoring, fitness coaching, businessman, tutoring, blogging kid from the Mission, but at least I’ve proven that anyone from the hood can do cool shit, too. There’s just no way I’m gonna let a sideline Facebook troll tell me I haven’t tried to put up my end of the bargain in this thing. 

 

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Winning

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How do you define success?

.       As twenty somethings we’re constantly reminded to evaluate whether we are truly successful or not. Sometimes it’s by our dear, but short-sighted parents or even our clueless friends. No, I never set out to become a lawyer. I also don’t think most people set out to become weekend warriors either. Everyone just happens to be between and betwixt their own immediate and ultimate goals. Some might say they want to be rich. Others might say they want to be happy. Success seems to be different for everyone, but I think true success is something that never ceases being intrinsically successful; it is a much simpler concept than people think. True success, on my view (and others’ view, I would guess), is to achieve inspirationality, or a success that never ceases being successful.

.      First it must be explained that success is a form of survival. Survival is, of course, maintaining some semblance of life. For example, imagine a person named Paul who has lived x amount of years and a person named Peter who has lived x-1 amount of years (or 1 year less than Paul). The property of success lies in the fact that Eric has outlived Peter by that 1 year. In this case, it is by virtue of science that it can be said Paul has had a more successful life than Peter, as Paul has been able to carry out more life projects than Peter (had an extra year to save up a little more money and donate to just a few more charities than Peter). So we acknowledge that Peter has done just that much more than Peter and we can say that his extra bit of survival makes him slightly more successful than Peter. To survive is to succeed, then.

.       Second, it must be explained that to survive even after death is to be more successful. That is, to survive past one’s physical decomposition is more worthy of praise (and is just flat out more impressive) than to merely survive while actually alive. For example, imagine a person Eric who has lived x years and also a person Steph who lived x years (or the exact same amount of years as Eric; both having died at the same exact time). Both Eric and Steph survived for an identical amount of time and amassed 1 billion dollars. Steph bought many houses, cars and took many vacations to random places. Eric, though, spent money renovating old rec centers, helped build hospitals, funded anti-racism coalitions and spoke at them, and even donated most of his wealth to charities. After their concurrent deaths (say 100 years from then), only Eric is still spoken about while Steph has long been forgotten. That is, Steph became irrelevant (totally dead; physically and metaphysically dead), while Eric is still relevant (only physically dead, but still metaphysically alive). More clearly, Eric has inspired others to maintain his presence even after his body has decomposed (bringing his name up as someone who inspired them to not be racist, etc.), while Steph did not inspire others to keep his presence in the same way (his tombstone being the only thing left to remind someone of him). In this case, Eric achieved a level of post-death survival by achieving inspirationality (has his image in textbooks, national holidays, etc). To survive past death is to be truly successful, then.

.       It seems, then, that  inspirationality is what you should look for when trying to deem someone successful. That is, if you’ve managed to make an impression on someone and have got that person to willingly keep you alive even after you’ve left (temporarily or permanently; moved to a new city or actual died), then you can consider yourself successful. For example, Eric gives Peter 10 dollars and gives Paul 10 seconds of advice (some sentences). Peter uses the 10 dollars on a burger while Paul uses the advice in his life everyday (the advice being to hold the door open for old ladies). In this case, the 10 dollars disappeared (or died) as soon as they were given, but the advice has been used numerous times (or survived). Had Eric given both Peter and Paul 10 dollars, Eric might not have been any more relevant after death. But because Eric gave Paul inspiration, he is still influencing the world he long ago died in.  It seems totally obvious that the things that can outlive other things are more successful. So to be inspirational is to be successful forever, and to be rich is to be successful for a moment.

Free Labor

helladowninterns

I’ve been meaning to touch on the idea of internships and free labor for some time. Is an unpaid internship unfair? Or is it the perfect low risk-high reward option for budding billionaires?

Most people have done some kind of internship. My first taste of paycheck was during my first internship back in my junior year of High School. One of the coolest experiences I’ve had thus far. Having taken a biotech class prior to that summer and having had a lot of fun, I decided to try learning what it would be like to take the microcellular biologist/chemist route. It was like having a career for a summer. Or as much as a career a 17 year old can have. Nevertheless, it was an opportunity that gave me experience in a field I could’ve potentially (at the time) followed. It was paid, too. Bought myself an iPod nano and a bitchin LCD TV. Just a win-win situation all around.

But paid internships were hard to find during college. I went so far as to ignore them outright (maybe bad move, looking back). I mean, back then I was broke. For a stretch of time, I had barely enough money to eat a quesadilla every now and then. One time, one of the cooks at the nearby taqueria I usually went to was nice enough to pay for my quesadilla. He could probably sympathize with all the broke ass students stumbling in all day. Paid him back, of course. Cool dude. Point is, I was way more preoccupied with finishing college and just fucking surviving that I didn’t have time to invest time into silly ass unpaid internships. I mean, how am I supposed to benefit from spending 20 hours a week bullshitting and filing papers if I’m not getting paid? I would’ve ruined my academic run stretching myself that thin (I was already working a job, even two for a time, and commuting 3 hours a day) and maybe even starve for sure. I needed to focus on graduation and spending my time wisely (studying, eating, commuting, training, watching DBZ, etc.) rather than spend my spare time on something that wasn’t going to help me right there and then (no paycheck, no study time, no rest time, etc.). Quite frankly, it seemed unwise to invest my spare time in an unpaid internship.

Of course, looking back now, I might tell myself to think differently about those damn internships. After all, my fears now are different than my fears then. Nowadays, college grads are left tinkering with their past and playing the what if  game. That is, sometimes I wonder if I had taken one of those unpaid internships and invest in the distant future (albeit at the cost of my sanity). Maybe doing the grunt work as a TA at Berkeley High one semester wouldn’t have been that bad after all. I’d have to pull more all-nighters (already had plenty to speak of), but it could’ve been worth it. I mean, it’s not like I’m still suffering from sleep deprivation now; I feel I’ve caught up on the sleep I lost in 2009, for example. Maybe I should’ve let myself been exploited (and do free labor) so that I could have secured something for the future (like a High School counselor gig, or something). Who cares if I would’ve had a difficult few months?

Granted, there are internships that do allow time for studying, even supply food and stuff. It’s not all bad. I mean, the experience you gain (resume fodder, really) and friends you make (human stepping stones, really) are much more valuable than the $3.25 quesadillas you would’ve bought with a paycheck, anyway. That is, unpaid internships are not completely unfair at all. You do get precious stuff out of the commitment. Spending a semester at Adobe doing free work could’ve let to me having a job developing a new homepage icon for some e-file tax website that my new friend probably would’ve recommended to me, with an office facing AT&T park and paid vacations to Aca-anywhere-you-goddamn-want-pulco. What if, right?

So I can appreciate internships for what they are: a chance to cultivate a resume, and also try-before-you-buy. I mean, if you ask people selling newspapers out on the streets if they’d take a chance learning new stuff with the only prospect being networking and no actual pay, they’d probably jump at the opportunity to try something else. It’s chance to break into something new, even better than selling newspapers. By the same token, people who take the chance and find out that they don’t actually like the work entailed by a particular internship (like cold calls, TPS reports, general bullshitting, etc.) could save themselves trouble in the near future by changing direction, salvaging their efforts and focusing on pursuing a different, more fulfilling career (like film making, chemistry, physical therapy, etc.). In that sense, I can appreciate a free opportunity, like an unpaid internship. But I can still totally understand how someone could have gone without them.

Finding Fault

 

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Topic has been beaten to death, revived and done over many times, but I did have a good discussion about what type of responsibility (ultimate or immediate) one should weigh as more responsible-er.

It is quite common to hear about people becoming resentful of their new neighbors. Whether it’s fair or not, I’m not sure yet. I’ve been going back and forth about who really holds the responsibility for the eviction of the middle-class problem, or whatever you want to call the disappearance of the local families and individuals in San Francisco. Ultimately, lots of different kinds of people are at fault; the more opportunistic individuals already living, or even native, to the city being the most at fault. That is, those San Franciscans who are successfully selling precious spaces in the city at increasingly higher prices, thereby trickling down certain expectations onto business owners (such as the one that people now living here can afford to pay more for stuff; $20 sandwiches, $15 PBR can, $300 dollar-a-month gym memberships, etc.), are the ones heavily catalyzing the shape-shifting of the city into one that fits snugly into the back pocket of the wealthy. Clearly, there is a real estate equivalent of a gold rush taking place within the city and the bidding wars for those precious spaces are tearing the city apart. Naturally, locals are increasingly resentful about the rise of living-space prices and the ensuing evictions. Some people seem to resent the newcomers moving into the city, while some would rather blame those who actually allow it to happen.

At first blush, some people might want to direct their resentment over the changes in the city towards the new neighbors coming in. In speaking with my friend, J, she admitted to blaming the “whitewashing” of the Mission on the newcomers themselves. That is, the evictions of loyal Mission families and the sprouting up of unwanted juice bars and random art galleries is totally the fault of the newcomers. She argues that, had these individuals not chosen to overcrowd the Mission, the local communities could have stuck together (and not disintegrate across all the greater bay area). On her view, the newcomers could easily have chosen to live or start business somewhere else, considering spaces in places like the Sunset neighborhood or even the Daly City outskirts are cheaper (and still mighty close to those hipcool Valencia Street bars). Basically, it does not make sense to want to crowd a place more than it already is unless you are simply trying to impose your greedy will on a situation (like forcing your way onto a severely overcrowded MUNI; making life harder for others, but at least getting what you want and getting to where you want to get to). It makes sense to want to resent the overcrowding on those who are ostensibly aware of the neighborhood and the dire situation, but still choose to compound the issue.

I would argue, though, that it would be somewhat irresponsible of those effected by the real estate rush to direct all of their resentment at the neighbors and none on the landlord. For example, my friend J lives in a building that is owned by a San Francisco family. Ironically enough, this family has a history of lucky strikes. They found gold back then and have lived off those profits ever since (even own a popular restaurant in the Mission). But now, in the second coming of the rush, they have taken notice of another opportunity to cash in. Let’s say J and her family pay approximately $700 a month for rent. J and her family are safe for now, thanks to the relationship between her mother and the landlord, but say the day comes when the mother and the landlord are no longer around. J believes the landlord’s heir would evict J and her family to make room for other, wealthier people willing to pay closer to $1500. In this case, it is clear to me that the blame should go to the landlord and not whomever actually moves in. It is a more clearly evil act to cash in on an opportunity that is guaranteed to betray people, whereas contributing to the overcrowding itself (as a human body taking up space) is merely a consequence of the evil act. In other words, it is worse to promote and instigate gentrification (as a landlord) than to play the role of a pawn (or newcomer) in the gentrification itself.

Now, those people directly moved or affected by the eviction problem have all the right to ration out their resent in any amounts and directions as they please. It just appears that maybe the greater share of the blame ought to be heaped on those eager to promote the availability of the Mission (all while undercutting the wellbeing of those already living here). The newcomers are merely the players in a game being refereed by the landlords. It’s a crappy game because the teams winning most of the time are the ones being protected by the refs.

 

New Age Outlaws

HELLADOWNSHERMANMr. Richard “The Dick” Sherman is what national sports need.

This loss sucks. The same goddamn hero ball play that failed to get us that 6th ring was dialed up again in the NFC Championship game. You’d think using up all our downs on the last play of the Super Bowl would’ve taught us a lesson. But nope. Mr. Sherman gets the honors to teach us again, our second year in a row failing Common Sense 101. Still, hell of a play. Batted the ball to his fellow mate Malcom Smith. Clearly prepared for that. The failed pass to Crabtree pissed me and other fans off. Deja Vu. But what took the hatred for the Seahawks up a notch was Mr. Sherman taking the mic and putting Crabtree on notice.

Some people are calling Sherman “ignorant”. I disagree. Everything he said was coherent, if a little bit too loud for the mic, but nothing I would call “ignorant”. At least no worse than some of the bar-talk we hear every gameday (fuck the Clippers, Dodgers, etc.). Dick’s post-game rant was emotional and, to be honest, an oppurtunity he earned, but it was nothing outside of the “Player A is greater than Player B” variety. Winners get the podium and get to talk trash with their chins up. We’ve been able to talk trash about our 5 rings being greater than Seattle’s 0 rings forever now.  Everyone has their day. Just the name of the game. Now, apparently this guy likes to blog, too. His stuff doesn’t read as crass as his post-game rant, and it might not be Pulitzer Prize winning, but it is coherent literature (read his stuff:http://mmqb.si.com/2014/01/16/richard-sherman-byron-maxwell-seattle-seahawks-nfc-championship/). Plus, the guy went to Stanfurd. He might be a dick, but ignorant is probably inaccurate.

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Not only that, but some people are wishing injury upon him. Now, I would love to see the guy line up at reciever and see if he likes what Hitner made him for lunch, but I don’t think I’d wish for dudes to be injured. We just saw Bowman tear his ACL in this game (even held on to the ball and made what should’ve been a strip takeaway; hate the refs). When he was carted off, “fans” were seen throwing food at him (who knows what else was done or said). Obviously, some of those people we’re celebrating and delighted to know Bowman was injured. We all feel horrible for Bowman. Of course, to wish or enjoy injury on a player of the opposing team would actually be incredibly ignorant (more so than a slightly-abrasive victory speech). These players have families (mothers, wives, daughters, etc.) that actually lose sleep for their football-playing fathers (in addition to all other athletes, male or female). Eventually, people are going to have to teach themselves restraint and develop a more precise vision of reality. Injuries are not fun. Hospital visits are not fun. I really hope no one has to take their family members to the hospital for something, anything. Let the players play and enjoy the game. That’s it.

To be frank, though, people should actually be happy about Sherman’s post game rant. Trash talk is an old art. Old in that it’s been around since the times when cavemen used to compete for prime cave space or food or cave ladies. Old in that it’s being tossed aside in today’s flavorless, sponsor-controlled media climate. See, wrestling has been around since televisions first came into existence. Everyone knows wrestling now as that thing with half naked dudes throwing each other around, but it’s really the trash talk that has made wrestling interesting enough for people to watch and follow. No one tunes in to watch one bald dude kick and punch another sunglasses-wearing dude. But the verbal jabs between the “bald headed jabroni” and the “dumb sumabitch” makes the fight worth watching. The NFL is a league in which a bunch of millionaires get to play football with each other. Pretty lame on paper. Their games happen to get broadcasted on television, though. There are people who tune in because they appreciate football, but there are people who tune in because there’s an interesting story line to follow (Peyton takes his second team to the Super Bowl!). Whether a home town hero or a rival city dickhead, trash talk helps build programs that more people can follow. I mean who doesn’t want to see Sherman and his “bad guy” L.O.B faction get beat now? It’s only good for business and the NFL should really let it blossom into its own thing.

Problem is the NFL doesn’t want it’s players to talk much at all. A little while ago one player was released because he had made his opinions about gay marriage known (in support of it) and the team didn’t want to risk losing the support of the league and the fans. By the same token, the NFL doesn’t want it’s players to avoid the media, either. Marshawn Lynch gets fined for choosing to decline interviews. By hook or crook, the NFL wants to regulate what is being said by all its players. But Sherman gets on the mic and talks a little trash and everyone gets up in arms about it? If anything, this is one of those moments people should celebrate as an attack on the possible silent future ahead for players. Imagine no longer being able to hear Peyton sell Papa Johns because the NFL doesn’t want players to speak outside of its stadiums. Or imagine being unable to keep up with Crabtree on instagram and knowing how our favorite players live because the NFL doesn’t believe social media paints the sterile image they feel they need in order to maintain their relationships with their sponsors. We should enjoy these brief moments of individuality while we can. I mean, I can’t be too mad at a dude for doing what I would’ve done had we won. I know y’all had status updates ready to talk trash, too.

Baseless

helladownbonds

The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.

Barry Bonds is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest baseball player to have ever played the game. The fact of the matter is Mr. Bonds did everything there is to do in the business of baseball as an individual. MVPs, Gold Gloves, stolen bases, World Series championship (in my universe the Giants won that series), and so much more. But the current state of the world (or at least popular media) doesn’t accept Mr. Bonds as the great player he was. Hall of Fame voters have cast their judgement and for the 2nd year in a row Mr. Bonds was not voted in. Personally (and Bonds would probably agree) the Hall isn’t important to me. But the hypocrisy that the MLB has practiced for decades has spilled into the minds of the talking heads that cover the game.

Firstly, the Hall of Fame already houses players who have broken rules. Everyone knows by now that players we’re able to, without punishment, use greenies. By defenition, greenies are a PED. Players in that era who at one time used PEDs were allowed into the Hall and are still in there today, even with the scrutiny against PEDs. No one rags on Babe Ruth, who played in that era. There is suspicion now that he might have used PEDs (no real proof), but everyone is OK with Babe Ruth being in the hall. There is no asterisk next to his 714. Looking at the ballots now, the players under suspicion of having used PEDs in this past era have asterisks around their numbers and are not being allowed into the Hall. Basically, we have two very similar eras (the 20s and the 90s) with two very similarly out-of-this world players (Babe and Bonds) and the suspicions surrounding their play (suspected PED without definitive proof).  Only one of those players has been voted into the Hall: Babe yes; Bonds no.

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Now, maybe Babe gets off because back then there were no rules against using certain PEDs. The culture back then was probably super casual about it. It’s only greenies. Every player’s bag probably had their chew, seeds, and greenies. The essentials. Go out there and play ball. It wasn’t until later that the League decided maybe greenies shouldn’t be allowed in the game. In this way, Babe (and every player in that era) is not guilty of using a banned substance and should be celebrated as a stand-out player in his era (the Greenies-Are-A-OK era). Looking at his career, he is totally deserving of his entrance into the Hall as a legend of his time, in which he played according to the rules.

Mr. Bonds, then, should also get off because there were no rules against using certain PEDs. The culture back then (in the 80s, 90s and early 00s; hell probably now, too) was to carry around your chew, seeds, protein, multivitamin, dbol, tren, clen, B12 shots, and every other kind of supplement and steroid what was available at the time. The essential tools. After all, players have to stay healthy to play well on the field. It wasn’t until later that the League decided  steroids shouldn’t be allowed in the game. In this way, any player of this era should be allowed (if the career warrants it) into the Hall, considering no player would’ve been guilty of using a banned substance, at the time. In this way, Mr. Bonds should be celebrated and allowed into the Hall. Looking at his career, he is totally deserving of getting voted in as a legend of his era, in which he played according to the rules.

Of course, as equivalent as Babe and Bonds may be, the MLB and the voters have made the judgement that Bonds is not deserving and Babe is. The voters claim that Bonds did something against a set of rules that didn’t exist at the time. Now, to convict someone of a crime that wasn’t actually committed is just wrong. Let’s imagine some math class. Every student has just finished their final exam. For the whole semester, students were never told they couldn’t use their calculators in class. The professor has always had view of the entire lecture hall and never called anyone out for bringing out, even during midterms and pop-quizes. It was just the way of life in that class; students would bring out their calculators, do their work and the professor never considered it against the rules. But come after the final exam (after the whole class has long finished their exams and moved onto the next semester), the professor (on a whim) has decided calculators are not ok and has revoked everyone’s grades and failed them, long after the student’s work had been done. So all those students were given Fs instead of As or Bs. Bonds’ body of work was given an A at the time, but is now being given an F, according to the League’s current set of rules. Most would agree that is unfair.

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But to humor this issue further, let’s say it’s always been against the rules to use PEDs. In order to convict someone, a Selig would need to take a look at evidence. There are plenty of players with suspicious careers, but only so many of them can actually be proven to be guilty. Take for example a player like Ryan Braun. He was innocent until proven guilty. That is, he claimed he did not break the rules and did not take banned substances. Hell, he tested negative once for a banned substance and was cleared because there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove without a shadow of a doubt that he was guilty. That’s just how the law works in this country. But he got caught again and this time there was too much evidence for Braun to fight against. The League banned Braun from the game for 100 games, justifiably. He did, after all break the rules and it was proven.

The League, though, can’t go around banning every player that has a suspicious career. Imagine students in a class and someone throws a stapler at the teacher. The teacher had his back to the class, so he couldn’t tell for sure who threw the stapler at him. He might have suspicions about who threw the stapler, but he just can’t prove it. So he decides to convict the entire class and holds them for detention. Only one student is guilty, but the other 30 are also considered guilty; pretty unfair. What the teacher should do is investigate who is actually guilty and convict the one individual. To convict the whole class seems lazy and unprofessional of the teacher. Hell, he might get fired for trying to punish innocent students; comes off as sort of sadistic. Without evidence, people like Bonds shouldn’t just be lumped in with the guilty group and convicted of the crime (let alone a crime that wasn’t a crime at all back then). It wouldn’t be fair.

It just seems obvious that the MLB is having it’s cake and eating too, and not sharing with the players that helped them get that cake in the first place. See, the game of baseball has been trying to compete with the NFL and NBA for decades. Quite frankly, the MLB is in a fight it can’t win. The 49ers and Packers game drew over 30 million fucking viewers. Selig can only dream of those kinds of numbers. But let’s rewind a few decades. Most baseball stadiums just weren’t filling up. People viewed it as a boring game (a stigma that the game still has to deal with) and most people were spending their time and money with more exciting options (football, basketball, watching ice melt, etc.). Baseball players got paid to play the game, and would just go about their business; openly chew, openly juice, etc. There wasn’t much of a microscope (and few eyeballs) on the game and fewer restrictions against substance use than there are now. After all, Selig really wasn’t in any position to enforce any rules or create new ones, since no one was paying attention to his game and he didn’t want to risk scaring those players and viewers that were sticking around.

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But eventually Selig caught onto something. He noticed that chicks dug the long ball and started marketing the most exciting aspect of the game: the Home Run. It’s the only real draw of the game (he must have conceited) and Selig started publicizing his heavy hitters. Selig pushed McGwire and Sosa to the moon. They were the exciting superstars of baseball and more eyeballs started paying attention (which meant more dollars were coming in). Finally, baseball was competing with the NFL and Selig couldn’t be happier. Of course, he had to smile through his grin about how he was pulling it off (allowing PEDs), but it was working.

Then the Mitchell Report came out and then the suspicions about how Selig was pulling it off were proven accurate. Players were using steroids to hit homers. Selig knew that the homers were brining in dollars, and people might have suspected it, but then came evidence (more or less) that Selig used PEDs to enhance his profit margins. With evidence in place, Selig had to now enforce rules and regulations against the use of PEDs in his game. Of course, Selig already reaped the benefits of the PED’s inclusion in the game, but now he also gets to demonstrate that he is law-abiding and fair. It’s a win-win for the MLB (PED-enhanced ratings and money then, most leveled playing level field in sports now). Selig gets out like a bandit.

The MLB is a business and they need to do their PR. To disapprove Bonds (and A-Rod) is the final move in their PR strategy. The final rinse of the dirt on Selig’s hands. But of these three characters (Babe, Bonds, and Selig) only one of them is truly guilty and no amount of spin is gonna change that. If you’re responsibility is to determine what is best for your business and up until now you haven’t done anything to change the rules, then you are at fault. The players play; that’s their job. A player can do anything and everything under the guidelines of their sport.  As the supreme umpire of the game, Selig’s job is to call fair or foul at the time of the play. An umpire calling a strike out on a ball that he later decided was a strike and not a ball after a home run is hit is irresponsible and that umpire would probably get fired. It’s not the players fault he hit a homer, it’s the umpires fault for not calling a strike. As far as I’m concerned  Bonds should be allowed to circle those bases 756 times over.

16th and Protesto

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When turning up gets political.

More and more frequently protests are propping up all around, mostly in the Mission. Some are less rowdy than others, but they seem to aim to escalate to a certain class of mob-like gathering. Just the other day (read a little about it: http://missionlocal.org/2014/01/mission-protesters-take-on-condo-dwellers-cops-cafes/) there was another protest, calling for people to “shoot the cops” and “burn the coffee shops”. The intent of this protest (and many others) is, of course, to engage in anti-gentrification catharsis, but the explicit reality is that it comes across as a crude and unfocused attempt to remark on the flaws of the current version of (Neo) San Francisco.

Firstly, to ignore the problem of burglary and instead aim vitriol at cops is sort of irresponsible. Some claim that the increased presence of officers on 16th and Mission (and other shady parts of the hood) can be attributed to the increased presence of richer folk. That might be true. At worst, the wealthy have proven that they can flex their influence and impose their will on the city by making things happen. At best, the wealthy’s influence has manifested itself in the form of increased police presence in places that might be dangerous for your girlfriends, mothers, and family to walk through on their way home from work late at night. Of course, it’s harder to walk around with a 40oz, but I think the trade off ultimately benefits more people than it hurts. Hell, I’ve been written up a time or two (stay away from 24th late at night fyi; cops be like grizzlies at the river hunching over for salmon) and even I’m ok with the increased police presence. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the city streets aren’t just my own personal playground (the streets are other people’s storefronts, baby-stroller lanes, pathway from work to home, etc.) and I’d rather more people feel safe than I feel free to debaucherize the town.

Secondly, to incite people to arson isn’t a safe idea for the community. Something about destroying property tends to lead to more property destruction. As was seen last year, some people don’t know how to do that shit right (supposed to burn Dodgers jerseys, not sacrifice MUNI buses). I can only imagine what would go wrong if people started burning places. I’m sure more than a few instances of friendly fire would piss people off (aim for Generic Coffee Shop, hit local mom and pop trinket store; misfire). Besides, what good is anyone’s brilliant creativity behind bars if convicted of arson? It would be like an infantry shooting themselves in the foot and taking themselves out of a war that needs as many soldiers as possible. Staying out of trouble is probably a wiser move.

Plus, this call for shootings and burnings could make the big-picture problem worse. If the new residents start seeing all this violence, they (with all that influence) are gonna call for even more police enforcement and then people are gonna feel they have to match that with even more violence. Eventually, the area would become a sterile no fun zone with a cop at every corner, thanks to the people who weren’t thinking hard enough about what could happen later if they continue all this irrational behavior. It’s like one gigantic party foul. Though, luckily, nothing too crazy has happened, it is wise to at least appreciate that nothing has, and to maintain that nothing will, happen. We don’t need to b martial law guinea pigs.

Protesting itself is not a problem, of course. I just think town hall type meetings would portray  a better image of the rebellion (rather than broken windows, death threats, etc.) and could actually squeeze compromise and creative solutions out of people a lot better than the rowdy rallies. For instance, the issue of the condos and the possible pros and cons that come with them. Some people argue that the condos would be a huge eye sore to the city. The condos could also displace other establishments that have been around for a long time. That car wash near 16th and Potrero doesn’t need to transform into a sun-blocking monolith representing the rise of the rich. Still, others could argue that the condos would allow certain people to move in there rather than displace families in other places by bidding on higher rent around the neighborhood. They could potentially block the rise of evictions (and serve to quarantine the rich). See, there are points of discussion here that I don’t think rallies always help to illuminate.

Rallies keep people occupied with doing the wrong things (threatening, throwing, drinking, etc.). Blogs can only do so much (fun to read, but not truly mobilizing). I’d rather meet with local business owners, neighbors and all relevant parties (maybe at the city college campus every Tuesday, or at Crepe House across the street) to come to an agreement about what’s the best way to articulate our worries with the City’s officials. It’s too easy to want to hate all cops, all coffee shops, all new residents, etc. It’s harder to focus that anger on the particular individuals themselves, simply because it costs mental energy to figure out who is actually at fault. But if people could meet and help each other understand who exactly should be called out, then the entire cause would become clearer and more legitimate.