Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ray Nagin and the "Chocolate City"

I've listened to the Martin Luther King Day comments and remarks made by Ray Nagin, current mayor of New Orleans, and his Democrat counterpart, Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York. Nagin has recently apologized for certain parts of his comments (which can be viewed here from the New Orleans' WDSU or read from transcript here). However, those parts of the speech were merely concerning the mentioning of God sending the Hurricanes, nothing more. His comments about a "Chocolate City" and how New Orleans will be "one again" has raised a serious uproar both in the city and across the Nation. As being from the area, born there and raised nearby, I find it to be rather disparaging for the kind of frenzy he worked himself into that day. Dr. King would not be proud.

Neither would Dr. King be proud of Senator Clinton's remarks comparing the House of Representatives to that of a plantation. It is just not right. It is a spit in the face to what Dr. King worked towards, that of equality. When remarks like that are accepted by a community at large when they are not the case (and clearly the House is NOT run like a plantation), then you actually take a step back for what Dr. King had accomplished in his life. What the African-American community must realize is that neither party is looking out for their interests and neither party is truly looking for equality. There must be eracism before racism can be wiped from the Earth. We not only should we be not racist but we should also be color-blind to race all together. Morgan Freeman put it best in a 60 Minutes interview about a month ago when posed the question, "How are we going to get rid of racism?" from Mike Wallace, and he responded by saying, "Stop talking about it."

All of these thoughts led me to write in to a specific PBS show, Washington Week, which I have been watching rather regularly as of late. They had a "What were they thinking?" segment that called for viewer comments, and well, I couldn't resist writing in. Apparently they had a shortage of comments this week because mine got in! So without further ado, my ten seconds of fame courtesy of who other than Hillary Clinton and Ray Nagin...

My comment read on on-air...

In response to Ms. Ifill's January 20, 2006 request for comment on her "What were they thinking?" segment:

As a native New Orleanian currently out-of-state, I was stunned to listen to Nagin's remarks. I thought he went off the deep end. However, Nagin and Clinton were doing the same thing. They were both playing to the crowd, which that day was predominantly African-Americans. They were caught up in the moment.

Saying the House is run like a plantation is a degrading statement. It's a far cry from being as repressive as the antebellum plantation system and thus is a slap in the face of the ancestors of many African-Americans these days, the slaves that were oppressed.

For all the talk of New Orleans as a melting pot, what it is and still has been a socio-economically divided city. What Nagin did was evoke a racial tone to an already brewing pot of trouble. From any other mouth such words would make many cry foul. What would have saved him face was not to call for the city to be a "chocolate" city but instead for it to be a "Neapolitan" city again. The city is a rich mix of cultures, and to include one race without the other is completely and utterly racist.

Both set of remarks, from Clinton and Nagin, were uncalled for and cheap allegories that have no place in today's society where we must get past race in order to actually defeat racism.

John Book
College Station, TX

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Yurttasisms to Live By...

Rare is the case that a Texas A&M computer science undergraduate doesn't have the privilege to take a course from the esteemed senior lecturer, Dr. Salih Yurttas. He is famous among the computer science student body for his quotes and sayings that are often peppered amid his lectures on topics of the design of programming languages, database systems, or distributed objects programming, among others. He is programming language maven with extensible educational programming examples on everything from smalltalk and simula to java, c, c++, c#, perl and python among others. His booming (and I mean booming) Turkish accent is a memorable and sometimes unnerving sound that has been described as a mix between Count Chocula and the "IKEA Guy." I had the pleasure of taking his programming languages design class last semester and have yet to regret it since.

Some of the memorable quotes, the Yurttasisms that have come to be priceless:
In Latin, they write left to right. Arabic writes right to left. Chinese write top to bottom. No one has thought of writing bottom to top.

Our angel on the fourth floor has taken care of this for us. -Speaking of Bjarne Stroustrup

Don't tell me 'I know these things.' I know you know these things but the problem is you never do.

You know what I always say, kill three birds with two stones.

You will learn this both properly and fully.

You will never do this; that is the 1950's way of programming.

Some may argue that his teaching style can be unorthodox at times, but I will fervently argue the opposite: that we in fact need more to teach in his style of teaching by example and sometimes lofty assignments. For when one keeps an open mind, one will always learn more than by keeping one's mind closed to instruction.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Oddly enough...

I don't know how much stock to take in this, but it seems fun enough...

You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!





























What is your Perfect Major?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Roberts Confirmation and Anti-Catholicism in the United States

I've meant to comment for quite some time on this article since mid-September but due because of my schedule I have waited until now. However, the topic is still fresh in noteworthiness here in America, as it has been since the United States' founding over 200 years ago. What are the place of Catholics, especially active Catholics in tune with their moral conscience based in a foriegn state? As Catholics we believed in this day in age that we have forever banished the question: "As practicing Catholic, is a person fit to hold office?"

With the media these days, much of it filled with anti-Catholic sentiment, I guess we cannot. Entertainment is set on bashing traditional Catholicism even more than the media in their pathetic satire, so much so that Viacom (parent company of Comedy Central) recently banished one South Park episode titled "Blood Mary" that first aired on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic feast day honoring the Virgin Mary. This kind of tasteless satire is both demeaning and rude. Not mention, it's happened countless times in one form or another throughout recent years from the Pope picture-tearing on live television during on Saturday Night Live by Sinéad O'Connor, which has since also been bannished from public viewing altogether like the one South Park episode, to being the butt of jokes on the priesthood scandals—something that should not be joked lightly about.

However, this is not what I came to comment about today. I wanted to comment on the Christopher Hitchens opinion article Catholic Justice: Quit tiptoeing around John Roberts' faith from The curt words of Hitchens in his labasting of good Catholics, stating simply:
If Roberts is confirmed there will be quite a bloc of Catholics on the court. Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas are strong in the faith. Is it kosher to mention these things? The Constitution rightly forbids any religious test for public office, but what happens when a religious affiliation conflicts with a judge's oath to uphold the Constitution?
Now that John Roberts has been confirmed and Samuel Alito has been nominated to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, must we hear this nonsensical ideological garbage again? Hitchens continues to insinuate later in his piece that through the actions of the Catholic Church in the child abuse scandals and the Church's teachings on abortion and evolution (which he both clearly and fervrantly disagrees with) that Church (and its members) is solely political in nature. Hitchens must realize that moral teachings WILL collide with political issues from time to time and that does not mean there will be any resulting double allegiance issues, which worried the WASP's during the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy, our first Catholic president. This new round of insuations in merely more anti-Catholic sentiment popping up in Supreme Court issues.

Hitchens even goes so far to equate Opus Dei, an organization that Supreme Court Antonin Scalia (a Catholic) is a member of, to that of the Ku Klux Klan, a totally outrageous notion that should not be given the time of day in consideration. What does it then? Because it is "cool" to bash Catholicism.

Well, I think Scalia put it best when he addressed a group of the Knights of Columbus (which protected the Church in the South decades ago from Klan anti-Catholic violence) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana: "Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world." Amen. Give me Scalia any day over a bucketful of contemptable liberals.