Archive for ‘Barstool Blues’


Too Hot For Teacher: Student Impluses

During the golden years in these parts, I wrote the above commentary on the uptick in reporting of teachers (especially females) caught sleeping with students. Since then, legal and career and social implications for the teachers accused have been ramped up due to the glaring spotlight. Sex offender registration has become one common consequence if the accused teacher is convicted.

Today’s commentary focuses one of the base issues with this topic: vulnerability/risk factors. It may be the first in a short series on the topic.

Make no mistake, teachers or people in similar authority figures to children and adolescents who have sex with said children and youth are committing an egregious and damaging misuse of power with those acts. The consequence of those actions are more far-reaching in some cases than folks may choose to acknowledge or recognize. Still, it comes back on one level to a favorite pet peeves of mine: how sex is handled culturally in current contemporary society.

As youth go through puberty, the social, biological, psychological and emotional changes are profound and far-reaching. While many of us are aware of the vast literature on these changes, we don’t always choose to connect the dots easily for our own personal reasons. So let’s try to examine things from a perspective.

So you have a cisgender boy who is going through puberty. He is trying to figure out what it means to start to have this feelings of attraction to other genders. Prepubescence, when he saw a woman in a summer dress walking down the street, it was a merely a woman in a summer dress walking down the street. Now, he can see that on one level, but he can also see more closely how she walks, the swaying (or lack thereof) of the dress, how the dress fits (or doesn’t) to actuate her figure, how much skin is visible, etc. All these stimuli have the capacity to illicit physiological arsousal. Then he has to decide (whether to, and if so, how) to act on this arsousal. Ideally, social norms would kick in here to govern appropriateness, how to make approaches, etc. Because this sort of processing is happening more frequently, it is a huge adjustment to make during puberty.

Now, what does this have to do with teachers? Well, if we stick with our current example, one of the settings in which the young man has to learn to nagivate those tensions is at school. So through trial and error (whether directly or vicariously), he is learning how to manage the physiological arsousal and developing appropriate coping strategies and outlets (WE HOPE). He may be seeking out different sources of information as he develops coping strategies.

One of the first people his gaze may view differently now is teachers. Remember, teachers have intimate relationships based on mentorship and guidance to students. Let’s say the young man may have a math teacher with a look that he finds taps into those physiological arsousal states. Is he to act on it? Socially it is not acceptable, and for a myriad of good reasons. Still, he may choose to test boundaries and may learn that this isn’t socially desirable or appropriate.

Now, with the advent of social media, older children and younger adolescents have been exposed more to the mixed messages that our culture has about sex. For me, this is where one part of the danger lies, as not everyone is able to sift through the cruft easily and to discern the subtleties of how to process what sex means on all its levels easily as a teen. If some adults still struggle to do so, we know teens have difficulty as older children (ages 10-12), younger adolescents (ages 13-16) and older adolescents (ages 17-20) are in very different places developmentally.

I’m not absolving teachers who sleep with students at all. I’m merely saying that there is often a lot happening on both sides and it’s important to address the issue by not just punishing the teachers. Our overall cultural (and some specific subculture) views on sex doesn’t always allow for the necessary safe space to access support in effectively decipher messages around sex.


Wasting Taxpayers Money and Attention Span

So as a part of my graduate study, I took a social welfare policy course to discuss the context in which various political climates impact the provision of social services (and vice versa). One of the common themes that is being debated since the Puritans first landed in the US is the following question:

Who qualifies to be designated as the “deserving poor”?

Clear statistics show that the US is the most generous country when it comes to charitable donations (both internally and externally). There are always countless stories of people rallying to aid their fellow man in times of need. There are also statistics that shows there’s a lot of waste in the US in terms of charitable donations, much of it lost to either ineffective management and scams.

Well, the issue of the deserving poor always comes up whenever there are elections because the provision of welare relief to certain members of society is common point of contention amongst both the voting public and politicians. One of the rights of a US citizen is the ability to vote in elections. Especially in presidential elections, getting out the vote can have serious consequences what political leaders get to shape policy that affects how the deserving poor get identified and services are rendered.

Within the past twelve months there have been questions about the impact of voter fraud and collusion with external forces impacting the last presidential election. Typically, the winning candidate does so by taking BOTH the popular vote and the over 270 votes needed in the electoral college. The current president found himself being in that small exclusive club of Presidents to lose the popular vote and win the electoral college. With the current president being who he is, ANY sort of losing is unacceptable.

So what does this have to do with anything? What’s your point?

Exactly. Huh?

As I learned in my social welfare policy class, the issue of voter fraud is one of the more comparatively minor political issues to consider. Yet, there always seems to be someone giving this topic new life. The latest person to do so is the current President in the form of a commission, referenced in the article above. Personally, if he’s going to breath life into this issue, there should be a focus on restricting voter registration and polling access within certain parts of the country (a similar sort of concern some Democrats have raised in the face of this voter fraud commission).

Why focus on that?

Well, that falls under the concept of restricting those who currently fit one criteria of the term deserving poor – often working class minorities – from being able to exercise their right to vote. The claim has been made is that illegals and dead people made up the numbers who caused the current president to win the electoral college (this getting elected) but lose the popular vote (number of voters who voted for the candidate directly).

C’mon man. The highest office in the US government isn’t a akin to student class president – AKA a true popularity contest. What makes this even more disppointing is the current president has actually put lawmakers who share this similar viewpoint about voter fraud concerns in positions to go investigate – all on the taxpayers dime.

You would think that healthcare, national security, creating sustainable employment were more pressing issues…and yet we are wasting time on voter fraud. Seems like this is one of those dogs that no matter the political climate, gets to hunt and waste the taxpayers money and attention span.


Identifying as “Black” at the “Expense” of Black Folk


Recently, I was minding my business online and this article about a German model, Martina Adam (AKA Martina Big) crossed my feed. This article highlighted her transformation from a petite quotidian white female to a woman known for the largest breast implants in Europe. Apparently, she has gone a step further to become a “black woman” – down to getting medical treatment to change her skin tone and change her hair color from blonde to black.

I just sat there, and shook my head. Then the story of Nkechi Amare Diallo popped into mind.

Who is that, you might ask. Well, that’s what Rachel Dolezal changed her name to after two years in the spotlight for being outed as a white woman stated she was black. She had done a pretty good job too: went to a HBC (historically black college, but did have to sue to get in), became a black history professor and the head of the NAACP branch in Spokane, Washington. Once she was outed as being born originally white at the end of a local TV interview, all hell broke loose. Fast forward to two years later and she is having some financial difficulties that are juxta positioned by the release of her book on her experiences.

I have mixed feelings the more I examined both situations and much of my feelings are sadness.

Now, people are free to do as they please, in theory. The thing that is so polarizing in both circumstances is what motivates both women and the social implications of their efforts. Some have argued it reeks of white privilege to have the ability to even undertake this sort of endeavor in a public space. Dolezal/Diallo has expressed her motivations in quite a few interviews since she was “outed”, but it has been a bit challenging to get a sense of Adam’s motive in my initial search outside the impression of creating a unique personal brand.

Unfortunately, contemporary Western society has been built on the concept of race in a manner that those at the top, who appear to still be mostly of white European descent, can seemingly embrace and experience other cultures freely. So, it isn’t anything to hear the stories of some “white person” going to X country to learn more about and embracing that country’s culture and possibly attempting to speak on that culture’s behalf. On the one hand, nothing wrong with that – if you’ve got the means to travel, go see the world and learn new things. Still, within that is that implicit right to do so and be relatively unchallenged that some can argue where the “white privilege” lies. I was watching a cooking tryout show recently and hearing a contest (a young adult white female) taking about living in China for 2 months and developing an appreciation and expertise in the cuisine she experienced. She spoke with so confidence that once she mentioned her length of stay, I had a sense of discontent that hit me initially. Now is that a fair assessment? While she could have developed some expertise during her stay in China, the judges found that she did not execute the basics of her dish well enough to continue in the competition.

I suppose that might be the thing that not sitting well with me when reading about both Adams’ and Dolezal/Diallo’s experiences. On the one hand, there is empathy to be had about their individual struggles and finding their own place in society. But, ethnicity based issues do not happen inside a vacuum and the social implications of both stories are murky at best in their ability to generate constructive discourse. It’s hard to become one of those people in the spaces one is trying to access because you lack the social footing to truly engender those roles. To be “black” in this case isn’t to cherry pick the aspects of black culture that one finds appealing or to merely identify with elements of black culture that are palatable and disregard the rest. As a black male, I don’t get to disregard the fact that the police have the ability based on current set-up to view me with a more suspicious gaze walking down the street, no matter how impeccable I am in other areas of my life or how spotless my criminal record is. The identity of the black woman is so something rich and complex that even as a black male there are parts I wouldn’t attempt to lay calm to speak on as an expert.

Sadly, whenever there is the idea to exploit a group and to keep us separated and unequal based on our ethnicity, one cannot help but be more sensitive to things that have an exploitative feel or at minimum some serious lack of awareness. “To be poor is a crime” Freddie MacGregor sang once; it would appear that same sentiment is applicable to being black in 2017.

So how do we use our access and privileges in our own various circles to facilitate better inter-ethnic relationships to truly create a society that reflects the different but equal experience?




The Moral Compass of the Modern Corporation

Modern corporations these days crack me up. If one has followed the news recently, we see lots of moves by corporations pulling sponsorships or ad slots from shows that there has been lot so negative backlash from. The most recent has been Megyn Kelly’s interview of Alex Jones. For those not familiar, Alex Jones is someone in what is been labelled as the Alt Right movement who is controversial shock jock who has apparently stated, among other things, that the parts of the Sandy Hook shooting a few years ago was a “hoax”.

Now, there is much in that to unpack, and while others have discussed it ad nauseam, what I am choosing to highlight is the corporation’s responses. There are reports that some groups have pulled ads from the upcoming airing of Kelly’s interview with Alex Jones. Similarly, we’ve seen corporate sponsors pull out of the recent NCY Puerto Rican Day Parade because of the honoree being a member of the FALN Oscar Lopez Rivera. Why the controversy? Well, in the 1970s, the FALN did commit acts of domestic terrorism in NYC and the history behind it is worth the read. Again – yet another complex issue that has been debated ad nauseam that we see corporations taking a stance on.

So, what’s up with the corporations these days? Are they growing a true conscience? Or is this newly found conscience another way of capitalizing on opportunities to make profits?

My guess is the best way to answer those questions is to decide what is the expectations of how corporations are to operate. That one is still as complicated as some of the issues we have seen corporations weigh in on recently. Some companies and corporations have strived to balance the needs of being profitable with the needs of giving back to the community by supporting social causes. Many Fortune 500 companies have some charity work they do… I remember at the old job some big financial institution would come in annually and do workshop with young people on money management and resume writing.

Let’s state a fact: most of these companies use analytics to understand their markets and target demographics. So, if a company places an ad on a highly visible show or area where there is great viewership, increases brand recognition and potential consumers of the company’s products or services. Now there has been a shift over the past 20 years of social values in some demographics. For instance, my sister is very keen on sustainability – she needs to know where her food comes from and that the other products she consumes are from companies who have a positive environmental platform. Therefore, if big corporations try to appeal to her, she vets them via research and decides what she feels comfortable what she uses.

Some corporations have track records on certain issues, so pulling sponsorship from certain areas is OK by them – maybe their analytics have built in the potentially revenue lost from such a move and they are OK with that. Others may be capitalizing on make that move to get to consumers as my sister in the effort to rebrand their image. Guess it is ultimately up to us as the consumers to decide how best to shift through what the corporations are selling whenever taking a moral stance on an issue.

At the end of the day, companies still aim to make a profit, no matter how morally inclined they may be.


Interpreting Caesar in Sensitive Times

Since the election of Mr. Trump to the Presidency, his first roughly 6 months in office has been interesting, to say the least. Some would use the terms polarizing, divisive, horrifying, scandal ridden, “noob”, “boob”, among others as terms to describe to what we’ve seen so far.

It’s a significant period of change that is happening for sure, where things in the US will end up from a political and moral sense in many ways, no one knows. Now, with the current administration in office providing enough ammunition, people have been taking shots at government – first, figuratively, in art and comedy, and now literally with the shooting of the House Majority Whip this week at the practice for the annual baseball game.

Now, I don’t condone violence by any means, especially stuff that is politically motivated. I hope Rep Scalise has a full recovery and the others hurt in the shooting make a full recovery. What’s troubling is in this time of political change as old traditions are being stripped away for many reasons, is this undercurrent of emboldened repressed views. Now some can argue that Mr. Trump has that undercurrent present in his platform and the visibility of certain groups we all know existed. But all these headlines seem to miss an important ideological shift that is underway

To me, what may be lost in all this change is the ability to maintain a space to some degree of a difference in opinion. The New York Public Theater recently did an adaption of Julius Caesar in which a Trump like figure was being assassinated in the play’s key scene. There has been such backlash from it from as far as the Trump family themselves. This is on the heels of Kathy Griffin’s recent comedic picture with the decapitated pseudo head of Mr. Trump where she suffered backlash, likely ending her career. While you can debate parts of both stories, what should not be up for debate is this idea of not being able to express a viewpoint which is different from someone else because it doesn’t have equal weight in a discussion BECAUSE it is merely a different viewpoint.

While no one said American was great at trying to be supportive of divergent views, it would appear the value placed on making the effort to do so is being lost. To me, that might be one of the things Shakespeare’s play may have hinted at.


“Ugh! Do I HAVE to Vote in November?”

Well, the title says it all, doesn’t it?

Honestly, I cannot tell the last time I was so apathetic about the US Presidential election. I can tell you growing up, i was this apathetic all the time as that political environment made what I’m seeing in the US somewhat tame in comparison in some areas. These two candidates are train wrecks in their own right, for sure. Really, they are. One is not the most trustworthy, and in the other one we can surely trust that something inflammatory will be uttered with impeccably inopportune timing.

So what do you do when you have to do when you’re forced to choose between sleeping on a rock and a hard place? You learn to sleep with one eye open and never get too comfortable where you lay.

Look, I’m not saying that any of the others who dropped out were any better. Yes, you can argue that maybe one or two candidates who have done better in a different geopolitical climate. But the truth is, we are where we are – and these are the two idiots we’re stuck with. I’ve heard people talking about how Mrs. Clinton should win very easily. I’ve always scoffed about that, simply because I’m looking at the bigger problems ahead. It isn’t about winning the election, it’s about running the country going forward.

Mr. Obama ran a very good first election and for the next 8 years ran into the roadblock that was an uncooperative Congress. Now he DID make some mistakes along the way, but the truth is that much of those foes are still there. So it’s not like Mrs. Clinton will have an easier time if she gets elected. And if Mr. Trump gets in, he’ll face similar opposition, albeit for different reasons.

So folks, go out and vote. Watch the debates, screen through the political spin carefully and do your thorough research. Then decide which of the lesser of these two ills you’re more likely to stomach. Because if you’ve got the power to vote, you don’t get to complain when things really go sideways since you stayed on the sidelines due to terrible candidates.





Sink Or Swim; Always Be Graceful

So for folks who watched the Olympics this year, the games have finally ended. Now to me, this spectacle has lost a lot of its lustre, but every once in a while we’ll see great acts of sportsmanship and some asses who should have been left back in their own closet back home. People love gossip at the Olympics.

The host country supplied some with the very public break up of a pair of Brazilian female synchronized swimmers where one kicked out her junior partner to have a late night marathon tryst with a male canoeist. Of course they didn’t medal, but it would appear that this episode was the last straw that destroyed a strained working relationship. I’m sure that’s one story no one will ever live down:

Brazilian Synchronized Diver Kicks Teammate Out of Room For "marathon sex session" With Olympic Kayaker

There was an Irishman who ran a ticket scalping scheme that got busted and is looking at a super high bail and some serious jail time.

When it comes to sports, there’s nothing worse than sore losers. Hope Solo had a Hope Solo bad girl moment with her disparaging remarks about the Swedes who knocked them out of medal contention in women’s soccer. Now, Hope has always been known for a few outspoken moments like this, but still…some may say that she should have just sulked when the cameras are off, and not shit on opponents who just beat the US team badly like that in public. The consequences for her latest comments are very interesting indeed:

Even worse than Hope Solo was Ryan Lochte. If you’ve missed it, essentially he is one of the more recognizable male swimmers for the US to ended up hanging out someplace with a few fellow Olympians. Apparently, they got drunk, trashed the placed and security was called with guns drawn when they refused to pay for damages. Instead of handling the situation responsibly, it got spun by the swimmers that they were robbed at gunpoint. Now, after more investigation was done, the swimmers recanted the initial story. What a black eye for Brazil (currently with its own issues), and a black eye for the swimmers themselves. Lochte’s behavior reminded us that in all these snippets, the cover-up was much worse than the crime (at least Solo didn’t shy away from hers). People make mistakes all the time, but because we choose to handle them in egregious ways it just makes the situation worse. Being gracious does take practice.

Sometimes when grace is applied correctly, it helps to make the process of healing a lot more palatable.



There’s No “I” in “TEAM”, but an “I” in “FIRED”…


So I recently go into this show called Criminal Minds. It’s essentially a long running series about a team of FBI agents that profile serial killers and solve complex cases. The show has been around for a long time – over 12 years – and I just started watching it. Now, it’s very dark and hard to stomach after a while, simply because the writers are some good in terms of their research and storytelling. To me, the writers are the real stars in showing just how far/low/depraved/twisted etc the human psyche can be when it crosses certain lines.

Why bring all of this up? Today, as I was working through a brief malaise while mapping out parameters of a life plan for the next 18-24 months, I saw an interesting article about the show.

Here’s the link:

Essentially, one of the long tenured actors got fired for kicking a writer during a disagreement. Now, this actor wasn’t one of the new actors…nope, this was Thomas Gibson who played the team’s section chief, no less. So WTF could have happened to cause a man who was playing one of those life long career defining roles to get the Donald Trump Apprentice style treatment?

According the NY Daily News (who probably sourced this from other places), Gibson has been on the writers’ bad side before – and may have been a bit of a diva on set with other incidents. Well, many actors are divas – among other things – but are gifted cash cows when the lights are on and the brightest. So how do you manage to tote the line or putting up with the “peculiarities” of a talent who is on an exceptional level? Guess CBS thought that this was the last straw and have cut bait with Gibson in an unceremonious manner, just have many other places have done to many others who “finally wore out their welcome”.

Such a situation reminds me of some of the stuff I’ve seen at my current employment sight where management has axed some really talented people over other indiscretions relating to on the job behavior. Now, most managers aren’t saints here – certainly none of those exist where I work – but I was taught at a young age to never give management an easy reason to fire you. In fact, a colleague just got herself axed because she literally disappeared for nearly 2 weeks – “no call, no show” style. Sometimes, we’re in a good situation and get too caught up in the trappings of the successes at the expenses of the efforts needed to maintain the successes.

Yes, even in 2016, “pride cometh before a fall”.