Monthly Archives: January 2013

An Audience

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Someone finally asked about the whereabouts of my blog posts; to everyone inquiring, to the both of you really, my process was amicably interrupted. First, I left my journal on the roof of a moving vehicle; after retracing my steps, it’s been verifiably lost. Someone in the world may have notes detailing my day to day life, if they’re capable of painting my picture through words, then I expect a six-hour long TMZ segment dedicated to my insanity. The culprit most likely tore out the first quarter of used pages, and kept the really nice pen that was attached. Second, following the Martin Luther King Jr. post, I had mistakenly scheduled a string of black history themed posts, before it dawned on me that February is Black History Month. Meaning to push back my blog queue, everything went awry when I lost the filler content that wasn’t transcribed from my journal.

Lastly, it’s hard to cultivate an audience without concentrating on a single subject area. I write fiction, non-fiction, about health, style, technology, and other endless possibilities and combinations. I just write, to clear my head, or elaborate my stance from social discussions without resorting to arguments. As much as I respect journalists, their profession has turned into copywriter hell; as a contrarian, it’s hard to sell to the status quo. I’ve always thought that whether you like my writing or not, I would’ve been glad to receive criticisms and compliments alike; where compliments make you feel good, criticisms make you better. With expectations like those, you quickly learn that the only thing worse than destructive criticism is silence. My Quora query on the topic is home to cobwebs and tumble weeds, maybe there isn’t an answer; and yet, we’re all convinced that winners don’t fit into square pegs.

If you find yourself impatiently waiting for my scheduled blog posts, then let me know in any manner you see fit; through the channels on jorenerene.com will work best. As with all endeavors, I appreciate any and all interest, thank you for your participation.

Postscript: Special thanks to Tiantha and Jillian!

Martin Luther King Jr.

Growing up in America, most children my age veered more towards adopting a Malcolm X disposition, rather than accepting the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) ideology. As an adult, it’s irresponsible to believe a chasm existed between these gentlemen; their differences aren’t black and white, they didn’t face off as violent virtues versus peaceful virtues. These gentlemen essentially knew and respected one another; choosing one over the other detracts from the fact that their individual achievements ultimately complement one another in the annals of history.

I know of black men who engage in deep intellectual conversations under the influence, sell the influence, and lose all influence in prison. I meet Ivy League black men with the most afro-centric names who openly detest other black people, in very specific terms. On social networks, I follow black men who post pictures of themselves dressed in formal garbs framed with thoughtful captions. We’re all over the place as a people. There’s an obvious yearning for information to self-identify with, somewhere between the entertainment we accept in its place; sometimes the two collide, where we lambaste Bill Cosby for blaming ourselves, or chuckle over the Boondocks’ rendition of future MLK. I’m a big reader, although my library is limited to fictional novels for the most part. Even then, while I have read Malcolm X’s biography, I have not read an MLK biography to date. As conscious as I believe myself to be, I can honestly recite more rap music than civil rights speeches; I would admonish such an admission if it weren’t a normality I were already fighting against.

Yesterday I attended the 7th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration presented by WNYC at the Brooklyn Museum. This year’s celebration incorporated excerpts of a play titled Reunion, which provides the opportunity for MLK, Malcolm, and Medgar to jointly address issues they were previously denied. The following is a compilation of quotes from the panelists, actors, and my key takeaways:

  • Medgar Evers was killed June 12, 1963
  • Malcolm X was killed February 21, 1965
  • Martin Luther King Jr. was killed April 4, 1968
  • Every African American’s bucket list should include a personal expedition to Birmingham, Alabama museums and civil rights sites.
  • WNYC was willed unedited, previously unheard of, interviews with MLK, and made the recordings available free online.
  • This year marks the 150 year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation
  • James Baldwin, an openly gay civil rights activist, is my most important post-modern writer – Dr. Peniel Joseph
  • In 1963 black people knew they were oppressed, it’s harder for black people to feel their oppression today despite its obvious effects. – Dr. Joseph
  • Ms. Baker, an important figure of the SCLC and Grassroots movement, was a strong believer that, strong people don’t need strong leaders. – Dr. Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson
  • MLK thoroughly practiced his non-violent ideology, his belief despite the tragedy, dictated that spilled blood was redemptive – Dr. Nelson
  • Remember post-Mecca Malcolm, the gentler, less extremist Malcolm. – Dr. Nelson
  • Being that he was so disciplined, and rallied black people to take arms in self defense, how would Malcolm feel about the epidemic of black people killing black people? – Dr. Nelson
  • Despite their relative omission from this discussion, African American women were the backbone of the civil rights organizations. – Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammed
  • Today, MLK would speak against the war on education and culture, he wouldn’t make it his responsibility to browbeat our children over their poor fashion sense. – Dr. Muhammed
  • Dr. Brenda M. Greene is Talib Kweli’s mother, she is a queen and raised a conscious young man.
  • Gangster rap music is essentially about low income black people demeaning low income black people. If they were demeaning white people, then it would be an issue. Even demeaning upper class black people would raise a flag; try disrespecting Michelle Obama with rap lyrics, even the demeaned low income black people would raise an eyebrow.
  • Modern black culture lacks a meaningful and enriching program for our youth. Our story is not being told, a story is being sold.

Over the course of the event, I’ve been identified as a prophet of personal responsibility. I am not a civil rights activist. My contributions to the cause are to be a role model, volunteer my time, and teach what I know; no one has asked me to speak on their behalf, and I would not do so without their express consent. These men we continue to honor are my heroes nonetheless; their limited lifetime of achievements gave way to limitless lifetimes of achievements. Thank you gentlemen, not on behalf of anyone else, certainly in conjunction with everyone else.

Aaron Swartz Tears

My take away from the weekend: no one ever committed suicide before Aaron Swartz. I’m obviously not in the know, or like everyone else, I would have known anything about this young man’s endlessly re-iterated list of accolades beforehand, the programming community lost an icon according to icons. The hyperbole is nauseating, see Quora for trite of this nature: About the death of Aaron Swartz, should a genius be measured by a different yardstick? Is it fair to human progress that law is equal for all?

What strikes me about this situation is the lack of conflict, Aaron wasn’t a victim of bullying, and since he was the genius every publication makes him out to be, then he knowingly committed the crime that drove his final act. What else strikes me about this situation is the mob mentality backlash. Anonymous hacks MIT in response, the forefront of academic technological innovation, and the community is dancing in the streets. If you’re opposed to pay walls, and are part of a hacker community geared towards disrupting markets, why haven’t you responded with an alternative platform? Show the world how to freely share privately funded information in a capitalist society.

After winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, Plaxico Burress was charged for shooting himself in the leg; I was the first in line to insist on the newly mandated three year sentence in New York City, to set an example and help curb gun violence. Timothy Bradley continues to wallow in solitary confinement, and our prison system is congested with petty criminals serving lengthy sentences, for far less damaging activities than the reproduction of classified documents. Crime begets punishment as far as I remember. Why anyone feels as if exonerating Swartz would have saved his life in the first place is beneath me. If no one else wants to draw a parallel, let me be the first: like the Newtown shooter, this young man suffered from a mental illness, just maybe we should be up in arms over our country’s mental facilities instead of blaming the subsequent triggers, no pun intended.

Maybe I’m really as cold as people say I am. Maybe I equally care about people I don’t have personal attachments to, and in that case can’t place one life ahead of another to circumstantially goad vigilantes and pundits. Please accept my condolences and kind words: you’re special.

Say NO to Kred

Tomorrow’s post was scheduled to be published today. Unfortunately, I endured an experience so traumatic, that venting couldn’t possibly wait for my blog queue to catch up. Last night, I decided to sign up for Kred and PeerIndex to contrast their analysis of social influence from Klout. Without Klout’s publicity, each markets itself as a mature competitor with custom algorithms to better quantify social relevance. PeerIndex, being competent at first glance, will avoid the scathing report that follows: Kred is the worst web service I have ever had the displeasure of using.

Between the rudimentary Pinterest layout, tabs, dialog boxes, and micro-sized Vimeo embed, the brazen lack of polish was appalling for a web service meant to judge me. Alas, sign in with a social network? Sure! Except, what is this PeopleBrowsr the permissions keep referencing? Suspicious eye aside, why does Kred employ the only Authorization Request to EVER disconnect me from Facebook in the process? I double and triple checked my address bar before re-entering my password; and even after committing every security sin known to phishing, one of the previously mentioned tacky dialog boxes pops up to request my name and email address, Kred just accessed my twitter account, what is Kred doing with my information if not acquiring my name and email address?! Then there’s the ultra-secure privacy controls, see the PHP code above that actually leaked into my dashboard? Why is Kred not the laughing stock of social influence? The deeper I delved, the more John McAfee references I felt compelled to make.

Do not be mistaken, I’m a pretty computer literate guy, and I still can’t find an exit. I haven’t felt this exposed since browsing Chat Roulette with my webcam on. I mentioned Kred in a tweet explaining my mistake – my mistake was using their service at all – and am yet to receive any help towards deleting my account. Kred, please scrub any remnants of my participation from your jail broken experiment.

NFL Playoffs

You don’t have to believe me after the fact: I accurately predicted every NFL wild card game this postseason. It behooved me to pick against Adrian Peterson. Poor Adrian Peterson, as I was explaining to a friend about history, he really needed to break that rushing record. History will forget the most amazing positional season I can remember, because the statistics aren’t historically distinguishable. Houston was outright better than Cincinnati no matter how they backed into the playoffs. Wilson was the best rookie, and the only rookie I favored.

I accurately predicted half of the Divisional Round. Peyton Manning is a chronic cold weather loser, and Ray Lewis’ announcement nailed the Denver coffin shut. As much as I want to blame a terrible play by Denver’s safety, the Broncos wouldn’t have been in the game without their special team miracles as it was. As a previous Super Bowl MVP winner, Aaron Rodgers had my faith in a revenge game against the city of San Francisco, then the Packers’ defense let a first year quarterback run roughshod over them. The Seahawks were a puzzling first half team. The Falcons were almost fortunate to have drawn a Pete Carroll coached team in order to escape. No one expected the Texans to win and they didn’t.

My Conference Round predictions: Patriots and 49ers. Mike Smith won’t fare half as well against Jim Harbaugh. Whether Matt Ryan is ice cold or not, is one of the least interesting discussions known to mankind. While the Ravens versus Patriots game could really be a toss-up, my choice depends on the Super Bowl matchup I would prefer. I’m already dreading the Colin Kaepernick life story specials scheduled to air, the Harbaugh brothers highlights would drive me to watch Gossip Girl. My prediction provides genuinely interesting plot lines: Bill Belichick versus Jim Harbaugh, arguably the two best coaches in the game. Colin Kaepernick versus Tom Brady, two very different quarterbacks battling over the future of the position.

I will admit that I can’t root for the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. I love Jim Harbaugh, from his time as Captain Comeback on the football field, to this hardnosed coach roaming the sidelines; it’s Colin Kaepernick that I can’t bond with. I’m an advocate of earned accolades. Steve Young introduced the mobile quarterback to elite status, validating the unfulfilled potential of Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick, Vince Young, and allowing Aaron Rodgers to similarly flourish. Ironically Tom Brady was also a beneficiary of instant success, having supplanted Drew Bledsoe and winning a Super Bowl under the direction of the Sith Lord Bill Belichick; however, after time, Tom Brady has earned his stripes and my respect. I would probably root for the 49ers if Alex Smith were starting. Call it hate, or call it a test by fire, because Kaepernick wins my respect with a championship, that’s what winning does, no matter how it’s done.

As Told: Shrimp and Sex

This story is being retold at the behest of the original storyteller. All names, places, and dates have been omitted at my discretion. This story, this exercise in taking and editing dictation, is true, no matter how ridiculous it seems. This may become a series if I continue to receive enough submissions through jorenerene.com.

My wife invited her childhood friend over for dinner. She was adamant about preparing shrimp scampi, because shrimp was allegedly our guest’s favorite dish. On cue, our guest arrives and begins to boast about the seafood restaurants she allegedly frequents with her boyfriend. I repeat allegedly because our guest was an outright liar trying to save face before gnashing her gums on crustaceans. She would literally bite into the shelled shrimp, chew, then reach into her mouth and collect as many shell bits as possible before swallowing. It was the most bizarre thing, like watching a feral human being’s first attempt at civility. Before I could pardon myself to wretch in private, the conversation lead to her personal love life for dessert.

She fell in love with her first boyfriend; they lived together for quite a while, and she accepted his eventual proposal. One night, with her fiancé away on business, she decided to attend a party with some of her friends. There she met a suave man, who measured a tad taller and more muscular than she was accustomed to. She claims his aggressive nature, in direct contrast to her fiancé’s passiveness, drew her interest. That night she slept with the man. Her infidelity would have been the exclamation point to the story if not for her confession: having only been with her fiancé by that time, she was convinced that all men had small penises. She went on to describe how her fiancé’s penis would dully tickle her libido; against all appropriate suggestions, she continued to describe how her singular climaxes would take lots of time and effort on his part to achieve. Luck would have it that the man at the party was blessed with girth and experience. She broke off her engagement the next day, and never ate shrimp until the opportunity arose to embarrass herself and a man who could possibly love her.

Jorene Rene vs Cigarettes

Here’s the problem: smoking is awesome! Fact: smoking is awesome! Disclaimer: I will smoke again before I die. You don’t know me; you don’t know what I’ve been through. However, I didn’t want to waste the prime of my life, or setup a slow and painful death down the road; so I resolved to quit smoking, and *it finally happened* some three years ago now.

Ashley Williams wrote a creative post about smoking before the New Year, which jogged my memory and provoked me to share my method in writing for once. Ashley’s analysis determined that smoking is the perfect game, she goes on to discuss why and how to counter-game the perfect game. My thought process was much simpler, smoking is a habit. I won’t go so far as to call it a bad habit… Well, smoking is an addiction really… Whatever, what I will say is, we subconsciously smoke in response to some sort of trigger: basic withdrawal, stress, etc. Like getting over a girl, the key should easily be replacement, except that doesn’t work. Not with the terrible taste and texture of Nicorette gum, not with Nicotine patches, despite their boastful claims about increased quitting rates, real statistics show those rates are in the single percentages after six months!

If you can quit for a week, then nicotine has completely left your system, the fight should be over; that’s as far as a replacement will take you. What will close the door behind you is identifying the external trigger: the crutch. I replaced cigarettes with water, started drinking more water than I ever had before, which sadly equates to drinking ANY amount of water. I still can’t swim… Anyways, one night I’m out with friends for drinks and caught wind of a craving in the making – therein lay my premonition: alcohol was my crutch! I couldn’t, and still can’t imagine drinking alcohol without smoking a cigarette. I suspect that your crutch is similarly not as addictive, and easier to quit than cigarettes.

Maybe you’re a social smoker who can manage a single cigarette on off-nights, during the occasional drink with friends, after sex, or generally rarely, all of which greatly differed from my situation. I smoked a pack per day for a minimum of seven years. The concept of cigarette conservation didn’t come into effect, until New York introduced budget-busting cigarette tax hikes. I never would have quit if I lived in a state with five dollar packs. On days that I couldn’t afford my addiction, I learned that smokers are some of the most charitable people you’ll ever meet. Try asking a perfect stranger for a stick of gum, smokers are twice as amenable for twice the cost. We’re a good community restricted to the fringes of public parks and college campuses. I probably wouldn’t date a smoker, because of my increased chances of remission, but I will own that you still smell damn good to me ladies.

Somehow, I put all of my warm fuzzy feelings towards smokers and smoking aside, made a conscious decision to quit, and did so with a healthy replacement and an easily identifiable crutch in mind. That’s how I quit smoking. Be warned: my life is boring! I spend Friday nights editing blog posts for goodness sake…