Monday, February 15, 2010

Geekosystem doesn't get the diversity message

YouTube, Metacafe, DailyMotion,, StupidVideos and Viddler

Geekosystem doesn't get the diversity message, judging by this rather unfortunately bad take in Mediaite.

(And for the record, Steve Krakauer, who wrote the post is confused. He's confronting me, not the San Francisco Chronicle. That's a crazy trick some people resort to when they don't like my opinion on something. The fact is the SF Chronicle does not tell me what to write or to think and that's the way they like it; me too. Plus, the same post can be found at and I'm syndicated with a number of organizations and have a TV show. Moreover, I've contributed to Mediaite and who knows, this blog post may wind up there too!)

Geekosystem is the new Dan Abrams website that's attempting to represent what it considers "Geek culture." That really got my attention, so I visited the site and because Rachel Sklar's the Editor-At-Large at Mediaite, I expected some of the same obvious attention to cultural diversity that has been presented in Mediaite. But when I visited Geekosystem, I didn't see that at all and discovered that Rachel didn't have the same creative control. Thus, I went into action.

I'm well aware of what I'm doing. I'm one of the few African American voices in media that generally points out racism and diversity problems in such a way that the message is widely distributed. That upsets people who don't want to be reminded we still have a long way to go.

My value system says that people should want to mix and that diversity is not only good, it is something that is to be expected at every turn. Diversity is the one sign we're not going to repeat the civil rights mistakes of the past.

My issue with Geekosystem is described here, so I'll work to expand on it with this blog post. Simply this: Geekosystem does not show that Geek culture is truly so diverse that if I click on a mention of programmers I would see someone black, for example. I mention African Americans because between mainstream black culture and mainstream media, blacks who are geeks are largely ignored, or at least feel that they are. This is also true for women, even though that's changed a lot because of the great work of organizations like BlogHer.

But my point is, no one, woman or minority should look at a publication like Geekosystem and feel excluded. If I, or someone else, makes that claim it's not to be dismissed. It's very real. Stating that I should start a site called BlackGeeksdotcom is not going to solve the diversity problem. That promotes racial segregation.

Diversity is more than having an intern who's of color write on a publication from behind the veil. It's having the desire and mission to present an obviously diverse World. That's what I'm driving at. Yes, my point of view is infuriating. That it is, is a barometer of how far we have to go. It's the only way to really smash the comfort level of world view that allowed Geekosystem to develop. From a hard, cold, demographic perspective, the publication does appeal to what is a young, white, frat boy mentality. And as a guy who does have much of that point of view, yet is black, I'm well qualified to point it out.

We're in the middle of a culture war today. There are people, like myself, who launched an online campaign to compare Stanford Running Back Toby Gerhart, who's white, to NFL Legend Jim Brown, who's black. Why? Because the media tendency has been to compare white running backs to white running backs, and black running backs to black running backs. That's wrong and ignores the simple fact that Toby Gerhart runs like Jim Brown. Period.

We're forcing a type of thinking that says "racial diversity" first. If you think about the long term outcome of such an objective, it means a much better quality of life and a and more economically efficient America. No longer will we have to worry that the best programmer out there was ignored because he or she was black or female. Geekosystem can go a long way toward creating that kind of American society. Indeed, there's no good reason for Geekosystem to fight it. To the extent that any reader is annoyed by my call, I'm very delighted. Diversity does not happen by accident; it occurs by intent.

Oscar Nominees Luncheon Live Stream here!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), Oscar Luncheon is in full swing now at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) has just complete her question and answer session with the press. Now, Precious Director Lee Daniels is speaking.

Bullock is just one of a number of attendees (as was presented in this space): from the Best Actor and Best Actress categories are: Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman, Jeremy Renner, Sandra Bullock, Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe and Meryl Streep.

For the Best Supporting Actor and Actress Categories, Vera Farmiga, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Anna Kendrick, Woody Harrelson and Christoph Waltz have been invited to the luncheon. All five Best Director nominees are here: Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, Lee Daniels, Jason Reitman and Quentin Tarantino.

Here's the live cast:

Watch live streaming video from academyawards at

Rachel Maddow embarrassed Rep. Aaron Schock on Meet The Press

The Internet is abuzz with accounts of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow's confrontation of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill) on NBC News' Meet The Press (MTP), Sunday.

Rachel Maddow, in pointing out that Rep. Aaron Schock criticized Democrats for economic stimulus spending programs, then shows up for ribbon cuttings of facilities funded by those same programs, embarrassed the neophyte GOP congressman from Illinois.

Rachel Maddow said:

...just this week you were at a community college touting a $350,000 green technology education program, talking about how great that was going to be for your district. You voted against the bill that created that grant. And so that's happening a lot with Republicans sort of taking credit for things that Democratic bills do, and then Republicans simultaneously touting their votes against them and trashing them. That's, I think, a, a, a problem that needs to be resolved within, within your caucus, because, I mean, you seem like a very nice person, but that's very hypocritical stance to take.

Here's a video of the MTP segment where Rachel Maddow punks Rep. Aaron Schock:

But there's a bigger problem than Rachel Maddow's embarrassing expose of Rep. Aaron Schock's actions and that's Rep. Aaron Schock's lack of knowledge of the details on that which he speaks. That's getting him into a lot of credibility trouble, especially at home in Illinois.

Billy Dennis of Peoria Pundit, a blog out of Peoria, Illinois, points out that Schock got "his facts wrong" when Schock stated that accused terrorists were not read their Miranda rights. Dennis found a CBS News account of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and F.B.I. Director Robert Muller explaining that the terrorist in question, Richard Reid, aka "The Show Bomber" , was read his Miranda rights, and that was during the Bush Administration.

Schock should spend more time studying, not sunning

And The Atlantic Blogger Andrew Sullivan observed that Rep. Aaron Schock is "in over his head" after the GOP Congressman said he was "pro-torture" and explained that the method was working, when most in Washington, including many conservatives, knew that torture wasn't working.

Andrew Sullivan:

At some point, someone close to him needs to pull him aside and say "keep your head down, learn the issues before you go on television and start spewing things that can't be unsaid." The fact that he hasn't even toured the prison in his own district is pathetic.

Congressman Schock should heed Sullivan's advice before Illinois voters give him more time to work on his abs.

Stay tuned.

American Red Cross must explain $175 million in unallocated Haiti donations

One month ago, singer Wycef Jean's "NGO" (for"Non-Governmental Organization) called "Yelle Haiti" raised just over $1 million to help victims of the 7.0 Haiti Earthquake. At the time, scores of non-profit organizations sprang up to announce some kind of effort to assist the quake-damaged country.

But of all of them, Yelle Haiti received the most attention because of alleged past spending patterns, leading to the awful and unfounded accusation that Wycef Jean was using the money for personal use. In this video made one month ago, Wycef Jean answered his critics:

Just after The Smoking Gun and The Washington Post blog posts were issued (and with no evidence of having attempted to personally contact Wycef Jean to give him a chance to respond to the accusations) and the rescue efforts ramped up, suddenly the American Red Cross became mentioned in commercial after commercial as the "go-to" nonprofit for donations.

Ok, but where's the $165 million?

Some newspapers, like The San Francisco Chronicle, included the American Red Cross in a list of recommended organizations to donate to in the effort to help Haiti. The message, and thus the common assumption or "conventional wisdom", was that the American Red Cross was the "safe" organization to donate to.

It's not.

According to CNN Money, The American Red Cross had to ask for a $100 million cash infusion after its emergency fund was depleted. Today, reports are that the American Red Cross spent or committed nearly $80 million to "meet the most urgent needs of earthquake survivors."

But wait. Where did the cost of $80 million come from? Or is it that the American Red Cross received that much in donations and while all of it is committed, only part of it is spent? According to the American Red Cross' own one month report, it has raised $255 million for the Haitian Relief effort.

That's as much money as was raised to finance the upgrade construction of the Miami Dolphins' stadium for Super Bowl XLIV.

But here's where the reports gets really confusing and disturbing. While $255 million was raised, only $80 million was spent or committed, leaving $175 million in donations that's neither spent nor committed to Haiti.

Where's the $175 million the American Red Cross collected? Where's The Washington Post and The Smoking Gun to look at this?

The complete American Red Cross Haiti one month report does not help because it fails to even mention the $175 million collected but not spent or committed to Haiti.


The logical mind would think that if the American Red Cross gained $255 million in money that donors believed was going to the Haiti effort, then all of the $255 million should be committed to Haiti, not some of it.

This is a major outrage. But more outrageous is the media's blind eye to the American Red Cross' activities. One would think a reporter would not be so lazy that they could avoid subtracting $80 million from $255 million, get $175 million, read the Red Cross' online documents, and start asking about the unallocated $175 million?

But that's what's happened in the case of the only mainstream media organization to look at donation spending progress to date, The Miami Herald. The report in the business section mentions the $255 million and the $80 million in one sentence - this one:

For Haiti, the Red Cross has raised more than $250 million and has plans for some $80 million of that so far, said Red Cross spokesman Jonathan Aiken.

But disturbingly, The Miami Herald fails to ask the "What happened to the $175 million in donations" question.

Everyone deserves an answer, especially Wycef Jean and those who've ran Yelle Haiti, and who continue to be dogged by a PR attack that seems to have benefitted organizations like the American Red Cross and allowed them to submit sloppy reports of their own.

Indeed, The Miami Herald picked up the "something's wrong with Yelle Haiti" theme and repeated it in the same story where they give the American Red Cross a blind pass. That is awful and must be explained ASAP.

Stay tuned.

Jamie Mcmurray wins Daytona 500; pothole ruins race rep

Jamie Mcmurray managed to win a Daytona 500 permanently scared by what will go down as The Pothole Problem. The Daytona 500 was stopped for 2 hours and 23 minutes so that track workers could conduct the mundane and (one would think) already accomplished work of covering potholes.

If one stops to consider how important it is to have a safe track, then the only explanation for why a race like the Daytona 500 was allowed to go on, even with such a problem, has to be budget cuts running up against sponsor expectations. In other words, "We paid for this TV time, so you'd better start this race, period." So they did.

But the pothole problem was too great to ignore and the race was stopped while it was addressed. While observers felt the pothole "wasn't a big issue" at the end of the race, that it happened is a problem. Dale Earnhardt told the USA Today he's called for a resurfacing in the past. But to date, nothing has happened.

With a year to prepare the Daytona 500 track, this is an awful development. But even worse is that no one can explain how conditions were allowed to deteriorate to this level.

Stay tuned.

Celebrity Breakups and your Valentine's Day Survival Guide from Cat & Allie

Reese and Jake? Madonna and Jesus? Valentine's Day is just one opportunity to think about relationships gone wrong. But instead of that, Allie and I made this little vlog about Valentine's Day gone RIGHT. And a bunch of other random stuff... 

Grab that grapefruit body scrub from Trader Joe's, tell your family that you love them and be happy you're single instead of in a bad relationship! Valentine's Day is what you make of it. And listen to what me (a recovering love pessimist) and Allie (well... still a pessimist) have to say about the big day. xo

Picture of Dr. Amy Bishop as murderer and teacher confusing and complex

The murder of three University of Alabama-Huntsville professors by Dr. Amy Bishop-Anderson, a a neurobiologist and assistant professor in that school's biology department is now three days old, yet the picture painted is not any more clear than before.

The image of Dr. Bishop is complex and moves from being one of brilliant researcher, genius, mother of four children and good teacher, to protective murderer and gun-happy woman, possible closet racist, and Harvard-trained kook, and now 1993 mail bomb suspect and 1986 murderer.

What's left officially unexplained, and what this blogger has been trying to focus on, is Amy Bishop's motivation for taking such a self-destructive turn in a life that showed great promise. Why did Dr. Bishop sefl-destruct. The LA Times reports she did not resist arrest. To get at the motivation requires looking at what Dr. Bishop may consider a threat, but that does not mean this blogger condones anything Dr. Bishop has done.

Regarding the murder of her biology collegues, the University of Alabama - Huntsville's website reports...

Confirmed dead are Dr. Gopi Podila, chair of the university’s biology department, Dr. Maria Davis, an associate professor of biology and Dr. Adriel Johnson, also an associate professor of biology. The injured have been identified as Dr. Joseph Leahy, associate professor of biology, and staff assistant Ms. Stephanie Monticciolo. Both were in critical condition at Huntsville Hospital Saturday afternoon. Dr. Luis Cruz-Vera, assistant professor of biology, was listed in stable condition and was able to leave the hospital on Saturday afternoon.

Working backward from Saturday, it was revealed that Dr. Bishop accidentally murdered her brother in 1986, but rather than be tried in a court of law, The Boston Herald reports the incident was considered an accident and Bishop was released to her mother, who worked on the police personal board; the case was closed and detailed records of it can't be found.

On Sunday it was reported that in 1993 Dr. Bishop was questioned as a possible mail bomber suspect after two bombs were sent to a Harvard Medical School professor. Bishop was an instructor at the Harvard Medical School who reportedly had a negative evaluation from the professor, thus the possible motive. Bishop was cleared from further consideration.

With all of this, UAB students have painted a picture of a Dr. Bishop that was a good teacher who gave informative, if "tagent-prone" lectures, and who took time to help them. Indeed, the whole issue is as confusing to students at Bama as it is to the rest of the World.

The reason why this matter is so intriguing is that no one had any warning that Bishop was going to snap in this way (if the murder allegations hold). It's important to not only get at the motivations for what she did, but how to spot such possible actions in the future and declare the person mentally ill and thus eligible for special treatment, care, and observation. This is important because students, parents, faculty, and staff need to know if they're safe in the future. What the community of The University of Alabama at Huntsville is going through should not be repeated again.

(For students who happen to read this and want to see a grief counselor, the University's web page has information on how to contact them. Click here: INFO.)