Twitter as social justice tool


Chris Rock’s decision to spin humor out of negative Asian stereotypes only feels disappointing in context – it was done amid a backdrop of diversity awareness and directed at a group already convinced their minority status receives little attention.

As a comedian known for building legendary bits around the sort of self-deprecating humor ever present within the black community, we shouldn’t expect any ethnic group to be off-limits. If a “child labor” or “look at these kids math” joke had been delivered on some HBO special, we’d all have a laugh and think nothing of it. On this stage, however, it highlights the sort of hypocrisy and utter lack of sincerity which make the Oscars, and other events like it, so hard to stomach.

Before ‪#‎oscarssowhite‬ hit the internet like a cruise missile with its guidance system on the fritz, the Academy had no intention of wheeling Common out to deliver an award or Whoppi (a white favorite) a speech. The lack of authenticity is staggeringly apparent. It’s as if black celebrities, namely those tolerated by older white folks, were bombarded by the sort of desperate call typically reserved for super heroes – “Please, Mr. Freeman, we need your help. You’re our only hope.”

It was a line up change forced by the sheer volume of social media pressure rather than legitimate, grass-roots social relevance. It may grab Oprah’s attention, but kids struggling on the wrong side of St. Louis aren’t talking about Will Smith’s Oscar snub – they’ve greater, more personal concerns.

This sort of wildly successful, largely elitist Twitter campaign doesn’t gain traction within the Asian American community, even if it implies their inclusion. After all, nothing about #oscarssowhite explicitly sells diversity as a “black” issue. Yet, oddly, no other ethic group can claim they were widely represented on Oscar Sunday. Perhaps they rang Lucy Liu, found she wasn’t interested, and discovered they’d hit the end of their Rolodex. Sure, Sophia Vergara showed her face and Alejandro Gonzalez took home a statue, but in the shadow of 13 black presenters, it felt shallow.


Why, then, do African Americans seem to hold sole ownership of racial diversity issues in 2016? They’re the most vocal and lack a sticking point which holds the tongue of other racial minorities – African Americans, as a general rule, don’t possess immigrant status and therefore project a greater ownership of this land and her culture. This perception doesn’t in any way diminish the clear impact of so called “immigrant” minorities on America’s cultural whole but rather highlights a difference in mentality.

The “nail that sticks out gets hammered down” or some other piece of pithy Eastern philosophy may work to explain the issue – keep your head down, work hard, stay out of the way, minimize your foot print. This is a message driven into the heads of many immigrant children and, in time, it finds its way through to subsequent generations in some form or another. To demand equality or “representation” is to create distinction. In order to make the statement “People like me aren’t being accounted for” you must necessarily accept that you’re also one of those people – a victim or product of uncontrollable forces. It breeds exactly the kind of categorization immigrant parents have spent years educating out of their children to great effect.

I suspect a good number of Asian Americans will shrug these comments off as trite or harmless, a perspective I’m in little position to judge. However, as is often the case, there’s another, more complicated and necessary conversation enclosed within otherwise trivial satire – the Oscars represents our need to measure the validity of someone’s plight by their desire to “rally the troops”, beat a drum or blow up Twitter. In a world increasingly bent towards the idea of “victim hood” as social currency, protecting rightful claims requires us to remain cognizant of how much we print. Hypocrisy and duplicitous demands represent a flooding of the marketplace, conditions which may lead to a wholesale loss of its value or legitimacy. Only when placed beside one another, as was the case Sunday, do we get a true sense for how social media melds with mob mentality to cloud an otherwise critical conversation. Black issues gained a nationally televised pulpit while Asians got a few math jokes..


God doesn’t kill people, Governments do.







Religion, regardless of the extent to which you acknowledge its validity, has historically been misrepresented as a source of conflict. Piety and ethos are often the VESSEL chosen by GOVERNMENTS to justify oppression or conquest.

Pope Urban II, a governmental figure paraded as religious symbol, declared the first “Crusade” in 1080 AD under the guise of “liberating the holy land”. This was a border conflict given a similar religious pretext to that of his dictatorial seat. Muslims were progressing into Europe and threatened the overall impact of the Catholic church. Challenging this progress wasn’t a religiously driven decision,  rather one made by kings and cardinals for the sake of their own political existence.

The record of Spanish conquest throughout Meso and South America have a similar ring. While spreading Catholic virtue is often the cited rationale, their own tragic documentation shows an unapologetic resource grab grounded largely in Isabella’s thirst for personal power and wealth. Gold, silver and the clinical narcissism of European monarchy drove this genocide – god had nothing to do with it.

For a modern example we can examine any number of 21st century Islamic states. A young Muslim living in Syria joins ISIS because he is poor, under-educated and angry, not due to any authentic fundamentalism. Disgruntled, privileged youth flee Oxford, not in search of Muhammad’s grace or 40 virgins, but for rather a silly and mundane excuse – their parents allowed them so little hardship they rashly travel in search of it. Maniacal imams understand this brand of despair and capitalize on it like some desert version of a Wall Street suit playing the market.

We repeat the errors of antiquity because we so often don’t understand – or flatly deny – their true origin. Spirituality, a valuable and healthy human process, too often takes a fall in place of man’s true arch-nemesis – melancholy and powerful states.

Planned Obsolescence




As a people, we continue to dismiss the following reality:

Consumer demand works as the primary force behind company decision-making.

I believe this to be true of nearly all products and industries, short of those being heavily manipulated by state and federal governments (Telecom, for example).

Before you conclude my lack of respect for basic decency and Pelicans forced to wear plastic on their feet, understand that I have a great deal of love for my home and her natural wilderness. Whether or not our environment is worthy of protection isn’t in question – the responsible party, however, is another story.

Corporations find success by mirroring our behavior or predicting its progression outright – the latter being reserved for only the most cunning among them. Apple, for example, has mastered this strategy, producing gadgets so closely linked to our own wants we’ve convinced ourselves of some deep-seeded, inherent need of them. Good companies act according to the wants and needs of the market – a market we define and re-define daily.

If consumers are comfortable buying in the “now”, meaning they aren’t concerned with the environmental footprint of their purchase, than you should expect companies such as Coke to mimic this behavior. Inversely, don’t be surprised when Whole Foods Market, a company whose marketing strategy is based around responsible agriculture, displays the flip-side of that coin. Questions surrounding a business’ moral obligation reflect an overall lack of understanding on our part, ignoring the larger role WE play in that process. They follow only where our purchases lead.

Never concern yourself with the motives of a business man, as what drives him is simple and to the point. There’s a built in complicity between the seller and buyer – both parties are required to produce a result. On the other hand, a state requires your consent on only the most basic of levels. In the event you aren’t interested in giving this agreement, they will take it from a neighbor on your behalf or by force if necessary. There’s no shared-fate within government structure. They seek power at my expense or progress, depending on how it can be best achieved at the moment.

Invest in the demon you know, not the devil you don’t.

Syrian intervention represents a historical cul-de-sac.

julius caesarIt’s sad how often the idea of “moral high ground” has been manipulated to justify the selfish initiative of tyrants and theological enslavement of nations. To our clear detriment, the ploy is effective more often than not.

Sunni clerics employ it to subjugate woman and justify 10 year-old suicide bombers. Joseph Smith spawned a Mormon religion whose perplexedly outrageous tenets are only over -shadowed by its congregation’s sheepish acceptance of them. Isabella tortured, maimed and dispossessed her own people as well as those a continent away.

Julius Caesar marched on Rome and her Republican Government, touting that the poor must be “freed from the tyranny and wickedness of aristocracy”. He failed to mention what he was marching back from- the slaughter and sale of 250,000 “poor” Gauls. Napoleon claimed monarchy amoral and conquered Europe on those grounds, only to crown himself emperor for life at Notre Dame.

Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Lenin and Stalin used the morality of “economic fairness” to win the admiration of their people – an avenue then exploited to genocide a generation of scholars, philosophers, poets and painters.

History has given us too many examples to count. Blaming these misguided acts on inherent wickedness seems too simple, a cheap method of shifting responsibility onto man as a whole. If collective responsibility rests anywhere it may be in the opposite mentality – a natural sheepishness. Those among us who possess the traits of Caesar, Mao or Lenin – a deeply narcissistic sense of personal value relative to others and the willingness to exploit it – are few and far between. Our true plight lies in a devastating side product of these rare personality flaws in conjunction – that they often lead to power.

MVP of Yesterday (July 11, 2013): Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman might just win a batting title before he’s through in Atlanta.

The Baseball Continuum

Freddie Freeman shocked the world by beating out Yasiel Puig in the NL Final Vote, but then proved that perhaps it wasn’t a shock at all, going 3-4 with 4 RBIs and some nice defensive plays in Atlanta’s 6-5 win over the Reds. And that means that Freeman is the MVP of Yesterday!

Standings, as always, after the jump:

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Hey, Bud Selig, why don’t you pop a pill and see if it’ll help you hit a curveball.


Baseball is a game built around tradition and a set of constants derived from a far removed era. As silly as it sounds, we enjoy these little eccentricities – the gospel of an ump’s strike zone, or the pitcher determined pace of a ball game. We honor these in an effort to show baseball our appreciation – our respect. For all the summers we’ve enjoyed, the sport deserves this one, small consideration.  Those are the excuses we spew every time a player of Ryan Braun’s caliber is caught holding the needle.

This is no longer the WWII generation’s pastime. Baseball now belongs to twenty-something hipsters, statisticians and no small contingency of international fans. We can’t continue to hack off our nose to spite our face.

I’d like to draw a comparison between performance enhancing drugs in baseball and the drug war as a whole. In the drug war, we consistently establish rules contradictory to a person’s natural inclination towards self-preservation. It’s the idea that you can create a moral, ethical or financial consequence strong enough to override a man’s will to succeed – to prosper. It’s why arresting a drug dealer results in two more taking his place. The urge and opportunity to thrive are simply too strong. Braun, A-Rod and a slew of others will be suspended, but 20 more will take their place in the doping line because the upside is too great.

Baseball is business and Braun represents a man employed. He has no idea whether he’ll play tomorrow or next year. Maybe he’ll wreck his knee sliding into home during a silly spring training warm up. Success in baseball is the man’s entire world, the only measure by which he’ll be judged. That’s harsh, I know, but painfully true.  With so much at stake, why do we expect a different outcome? Does it truly surprise anyone that these players are grabbing an edge wherever they can find one? Have you seen the AAU circuit in Florida? Kids are stronger, faster and younger than ever before, leaving no room for error and added room for “supplemental training”.

I know it hurts. Ruth, Gehrig and Aaron didn’t have PEDs and it pisses us off. We want to know what Mantle or Mays could have done with 25 year old legs at 30, or what Koufax would look like pitching in his 40’s. We have to get over this obsession with forcing relevance onto different eras of baseball.

In the end we know that steroids improve already existing skill, they don’t create it. We can’t take from Ryan Braun what he’s worked a lifetime to achieve simply because natural competitiveness drove him to find an edge other players already possess. Roids don’t get you in the cage at 5AM before class starts – that’s where passion jumps in.

The Movement Report: Baseball’s best breaking stuff

kershaw_vs_rockiesBig League ballplayers are good – I mean crazy good. I’m often reminded of this fact when I see some young-gun pitcher elevated from triple-A to his Major League affiliate.

For fifteen or more years this kid’s entire life has been enviable success. Little League, AAU and Highschool statistics served as memoirs of a laughably one-sided career. Maybe those triple-A guys gave him some headaches, but it was short lived and domination soon followed. The minors, like every other level, was his. All of the above holds true until the day our prodigious youth watches Miguel Cabrera step into the box. After being touched up deep, he realizes a tough reality – guys are different in the bigs.

That leads me to my larger point – I love watching great hitters look bad and breaking pitches are usually the culprit. It’s why we all love watching Adam Wainwright try to buckle Joey Votto with that villainous curve. I’ve compiled a list of pitchers whose breaking pitches are especially heinous.

Clayton Kershaw (

A Bleacher Report article, as well as Buster Olney, recently touted some interesting Kershaw statistics. Hitters are batting .120 lifetime against his curveball. Did I mention he’s never had a regular season hook taken deep? Pair that with an equally irritating slider and we have arguably the best overall pitcher in either league.

Adam Wainwright (

Wainwright’s curve is one of the few with amazing break in both directions. To right handed hitters, it looks as if it’s falling straight north to south. As bad as that 12 to 6 action can be, Adam’s falls AWAY at the same time. It’s straight nasty and an almost guaranteed strikeout 0-2.

Matt Harvey (

Harvey is special. All eyes have been on the power righty and mostly because his velocity is paired with improved command. His slider comes across in the low 90’s with late break and pin point accuracy. It’s painful watching hitters try so hard to catch up with a pitch that eventually winds up a foot off the plate.  

Chris Sale (

I watched the majority of Sunday night’s contest between Sale and Matt Moore, intrigued by a match up of young, often under appreciated hurlers. Both looked good and Sale was the victim of another outing without run support, but what caught my eye was his sweeping slider. I can only imagine how tough it must be for a left handed batter to see this pitch. The ball comes out of Sale hand around first base and winds up in the cellar of the right hand batters box. Sale is going to be an elite, top 10 overall pitcher over the next couple of years. Did I mention he’s a Florida Gulf Coast kid?

Yu Darvish (

Everyone is in love with Yu’s slider.  He apparently tosses the pitch at a 30% clip (per Buster Olney) and by the looks of it should consider upping that number to 50%.  The downward break is so sharp and hard it looks impossible to pass on when anywhere near the strike zone. We’ll have the privilege of watching Yu Darvish fan guys for another 15 years and the AL West should be terrified that he’ll adjust to another level with more experience.

Clay Buchholtz (

Buchholz  just has sick,  late movement on everything he throws. His slider is particularly bad down and in on lefties and he’s used it to really break out as a top strikeout guy in the AL. Clay, bro, lose the spit – your stuff is barely legal as it is.

If I left your favorite guy off the list it’s because my picks were better but, please, by all means correct me!

Puig not an All-Star? Hey, Pap, stick to working the ninth – not the media.


Yasiel Puig’s LA debut

I’ll start off by declaring my completely unabashed impartiality relative to Dodger baseball. I’m a southern boy, love the Braves and don’t have any love or hate for the west coast.

With that being said, I can’t get Yasiel out of the box in my living room and I’m loving every second of it. Drawing physical similarities to a young Bo Jackson, Puig doesn’t look like a ballplayer – more like a linebacker.  Consider that, in 27 games or less than 1/6th of a major league season, Puig has a slash line of .443/.473/.745 to go along with 8 homers, 6 doubles and 17 RBI. Small sample sizes make his batting average a bit tough to buy, but that power is beyond legit.

It wouldn’t be the first time a seasoned major league player took exception to an upstart. Every year we seem to be forced into this discussion of valid versus hype induced All-Star nods. Whether it’s Harper, Trout or Strasburg, young guys seem to fall victim to this onslaught of fraternity style initiation. It’s the old “You have to pay your dues” mentality – you’re ready when you’ve earned our respect.

As a fan, Papelbon’s opinion on this topic is mute. The All-Star game isn’t the exhibition game of old. It counts – a lot. With home field advantage on the line, guys like Puig have to be evaluated based on their contributory capacity in the moment – not retrospectively. If the All-Star game had been played in April, John Buck would have been a rational All-Star choice at Catcher. We know now he was streaking, but would that have been relevant at the time? Any clear assessment shows that Puig is crushing NOW, and whether he still holds that stat line in September means nothing on July,16th at Citi Field.