Monday, April 28, 2008


The other day, I got one of those emails that end with the "share this with everybody you know" line. As I read this junk sent by a "friend," I could only wonder if he read it before sending it on to me. If he did read red it, I had to wonder if he believed it, or maybe, it was a test to see if I would believe it!

Clearly, this is a downside of the Internet: people can write just about anything they want and send it around the world in nothing flat. There have probably been a score of dissertations done on this issue already that might provide some insight, but I am still left with my question: why do "friends" send you junk that you hope that they can't possibly believe. After all, don't we want to believe that our friends have good sense?

Well, in my recent experience, I dutifully got the cite from Snopes and sent it back to my "friend" with a comment suggesting that he might want to bookmark that cite so he could check out stuff before forwarding it. The message back was even more telling: just because Snopes says it's a hoax doesn't prove that it is one.

With the modern twist to how we on the sidelines can "participate" in politics in a significant way, it's easy to help attack someone with one of these type messages. So natch - Barack Obama really does want to change our National Anthem to the "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" song. Maybe he would also designate Coca-Cola our national beverage while he's at it!

Silly me, it has to be true, it was on the Internet!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The other day, Jesse DeConto of the CHN posted a comment on the N&O Blog about a happening in Carrboro. It has drawn almost no response I guess for obvious reasons.

I personally reacted to his post because of where the logical conclusion to what he wrote took me. There's a store in U-Mall I no longer frequent because of the guy that picks up my trail when I walk in. I know others who have had the same experience there and in other establishments as well. I don't like what these sort of behaviors say to me and say about us as a community.

Sure, we are all angry about crime in our community and I guess some would argue that there are good reasons for all of the fear. But George Patton put it well: Do not take counsel of your fears. Bad things happen when we do, but some clearly disagree. Here's what Jesse wrote:

Carrboro Police: Citizens define "suspicious"
Monday, April 21, 2008, 7:06:32 PM | Jesse DeConto
Last week, after receiving a warning from her property manager about a recent armed robbery, a University Lake Apartments resident called 911 to report a black male teenager riding his bicycle through the complex. The General Services Corporation, which manages University Lake and the adjacent Royal Park Apartments, is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of anyone guilty of crime in the complexes. Victims have described the robbers as black men, 18 to 20 years old.

Carrboro Police Capt. J.G. Booker encourages citizens to make such calls, even though police often discover the suspect hadn't done anything wrong. Booker said officers can speak to a potential suspect with courtesy and professionalism, so it's better to call them and let them decide whether someone is up to no good.

"It's absolutely what we're looking for," Booker said. "If they see anything that appears to them to be suspicious, they should call. They know that neighborhood and that complex perhaps better than the police do. Without a call like that, the chance of us finding the people who are responsible for these incidents is greatly reduced."

What would you do? Is the sight of a black teenager you don't know in your neighborhood cause for a 911 call?

I asked (tongue-in-cheek) what made a person a suspect or even a potential suspect, riding a bike? The only responder indicated that a person "riding a bike at 5 miles an hour means you are going from point A to point B. Riding a bike at two miles an hour means your casing joints where you can do your crimes."

I called that an ignorant and gross generalization and the responder invited me over: "Come live in my neighborhood Mr Black and you'll see how ignorant and gross this generalization is. FYI: 3 break ins in the last 18 months." Well, I asked, "And during that 18 month period, how many people rode their bikes in you neighborhood, three?"

I think the point was lost on the person, but it is significant that no one to date has responded to Jesse's original question. " What would you do? Is the sight of a black teenager you don't know in your neighborhood cause for a 911 call?"

It's not really about the bike, is it? It's all about who's on the bike, the fear someone might have about the person on the bike, and a commitment to a disturbing kind of thinking: If it walks like a duck, and quacks like duck, it must be...?

Maybe Joe Biden might think the kid on the bike is "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." I'm still wondering where our fears will take us as a community.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I wanted UNC to win the national basketball championship as much as any Tar Heel fan, but I can live with accepting a great season without a championship. Obviously, some others can’t, and it appears that their inability to do so really drives them off the edge.

You have to have been living under a rock to be unaware of the hateful reaction directed towards Coach Williams for appearing at the championship game with a Kansas “Jayhawk” sticker on his shirt. His doing this brought out not only the hate speech types, but the conspiracy theorist clearly identified who they were.

It appears that wearing the sticker was a sign of disloyalty in their way of thinking. After all, their reasoning went, KU had just beat UNC so how could Coach Williams shift his loyalties like that. For the conspiracy types, they offered that Coach Williams must have told the team to throw the game because he wanted KU to win.

OK, we have never had a shortage of weird and convoluted thinking in sports, but what are these people thinking? I thought that maybe they have never had their hearts invested in different things and therefore they couldn’t understand someone who did. Then I thought that maybe their outlandish allegations on talk radio, the sports blogs and in letters to the editors were part of who they were and how they grieved and sought closure.

Naw, none of the above – these people just don’t understand that this is a game, this is a sport, and someone can love their team without hating all the other teams that they may have been associated with. Roy Williams should be proud of the Kansas team - he is part of who they are, and being proud is not a zero-sum game.

It’s interesting that when UNC beat a Williams coached team in the NCAA playoffs some years ago, Williams was at the UNC's next game cheering on his former institution. Did he tell the KU players to throw the game or hate his former team? Of course not, all he did was to show that he was a good sport.

I hope all of those who have impugned the integrity and character that so wonderfully defines Coach Williams will have some sort of enlightenment experience. Maybe they will somehow figure out what’s really defines a champion and a coach that produces winners.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


This year’s "March Madness" has sure been exciting – How ‘bout our Heels! And when madness ends next week, it will quickly be replaces with another round of madness, and this one is of the political species. You may remember early on all of the pundits said with their normal insightful certainty that because of our late primary in North Carolina, everything would be over with when May 6th rolled around.

Well, once again they are wrong, at least in the case of the Democratic Party presidential primary. We are now part of the mix and the reminders are everywhere – candidates opening local campaign headquarters, commercials on TV and visits trying to drum up support. As exciting as a presidential campaign might be, we can’t forget that there are other important races.

Depending on where you live and which ballot you vote, you can help select the November candidates for US Senator and House of Representatives; North Carolina governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, auditor, commissioner of insurance, superintendent of public instruction; State Senate District 23, non-partisan judges, the Orange County Board of Education, Orange County Commissioner seats, and you can have your say on the proposed land transfer tax.

With many decisions to make, now's the time to study the issues and learn where the candidates stand. You can register prior to April 11th and even do same day registration and early voting from April 17th to May 3d.

I hope that you will cast a ballot in our May 6th primary. True madness would be not having your say! Care enough to get informed and then go to your polling place and be an informed voter!